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Getting started with oxygen therapy

VitalAire can help you get started with oxygen therapy.

How is oxygen in my blood measured?

Your doctor will confirm if the amount of oxygen in your blood is low by testing:

  • Arterial blood gas: This accurate test measures the oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood, by taking a small amount from an artery (usually in the wrist).
  • Pulse oximetry: A simple, pain-free device on your finger tests how much oxygen is in your blood. With your doctor’s approval, VitalAire can perform pulse oximetry testing in your home.

Understanding your prescription

Your oxygen therapy, prescribed by your doctor, has three main parts:

  • Flow rate: The amount of extra oxygen your body needs, expressed in litres per minute (LPM). Your doctor may want your flow rate to remain constant, or to change, based on whether you are sleeping or being active, for example.
  • Duration of use: Refers to the number of hours a day for use of oxygen therapy.
  • The type of oxygen supply equipment: This will depend on your doctor’s recommendation, based on available funding and lifestyle suitability.

We can assist you with a variety of oxygen supply systems based on your doctor’s recommendations.

How does oxygen therapy work?

Three main types of oxygen equipment include:

  • Stationary oxygen concentrators.
  • Portable oxygen concentrators.
  • Oxygen cylinders.

Oxygen concentrators are electrical devices that filter air to leave only the oxygen. Portable units run on batteries. Oxygen cylinders contain oxygen under pressure to hold a greater volume of gas.

Whatever system you use, the oxygen is typically delivered to your nose by soft plastic tubes (cannula). Stationary oxygen concentrators have a flexible extension tube that lets you move around while remaining connected to the oxygen supply. These provide the extra oxygen you need throughout your day.

How do I arrange home oxygen?

VitalAire will coordinate all arrangements with your doctor and medical scheme to set up your oxygen therapy wherever you need it. Our administration team will also apply for authorisation from your medical scheme for your home oxygen therapy.

Our professional nurses will demonstrate how to use the equipment and answer all your questions. We want you to feel confident with oxygen therapy.

How do I use oxygen in my daily life?

Integrating oxygen therapy into your daily routine will not only prolong your life, but it will enhance your quality of life. You may feel self-conscious about using it in public at first but you will soon appreciate the benefits it brings.

New portable oxygen systems are small and lightweight – as little as 1.4kg. These discrete systems will help you gain confidence when going out.

Using your oxygen means you can continue doing the everyday things you enjoy, as you adapt to using oxygen equipment in your home, or the portable unit for activities outside. Begin with a short trip and build up to longer periods as you become more comfortable.