Medical experts agree that people with long-term respiratory illnesses like COPD should remain as active as possible, despite the need for supplemental oxygen. Because advances in technology have made it possible to create oxygen delivery systems with mobility and portability in mind, never before has it been easier to stay connected to an oxygen source, wherever you may be.

Introducing OxygenMD’s Complete Nasal Cannula Guide. Choosing a nasal cannula as your primary oxygen delivery solution assures you’ll get the right amount of oxygen while maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle. Whether you take it section by section, or read the entire guide in one sitting, this pamphlet will deepen your understanding of nasal cannulas while providing you with a basic understanding of how to care for them.

Part I: What is a Nasal Cannula?

A nasal cannula is an efficient, cost-effective device that delivers supplemental oxygen from an oxygen tank or concentrator to your lungs. The appliance is made of flexible plastic tubing through which a mixture of air and oxygen flows. One end of the nasal cannula splits into two prongs that rest in the nostrils; the other end attaches to an oxygen source.

Is a Nasal Cannula Right for You?

If your condition is stable and your health care provider determines you need low-flow oxygen therapy at low to medium concentrations, she is likely to recommend a nasal cannula as your primary oxygen delivery method. Because nasal cannulas deliver oxygen in a variable manner – depending upon a person’s breathing rate and pattern – they are not meant to be used by people who are in the acute (critical) phases of an illness when controlled oxygen therapy through an oxygen mask may be more suitable. This is a general rule of thumb for oxygen delivery during the critical stages of any illness, including acute exacerbations of COPD (periods of time when COPD symptoms worsen).

Why Use a Nasal Cannula?

Nasal cannulas deliver oxygen to people who don’t otherwise get enough of it from room air. Aside from being convenient and easy to use, nasal cannulas have many benefits:

  • Generally more comfortable and less conspicuous than an oxygen face mask.
  • Lowers the risk of carbon dioxide rebreathing, a concern for many people with COPD.
  • Less intrusive than oxygen masks, giving you the freedom to eat, drink, and speak without restriction.
  • Can be used in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices, in the home, or on the go.

Learn more in by reading:

Part II: Types of Nasal Cannulas

Part III: Nasal Cannula Accessories

Part IV: Oxygen Delivery Methods

Part V: Care and Maintenance of the Nasal Cannula

Part IV: Traveling with Medical Oxygen