If you have lung fibrosis, you may need extra oxygen to supplement the oxygen in the air. Oxygen is a gas vital to every cell in our bodies. When we breathe, we take in oxygen, but a person with lung fibrosis, may have to make an extra effort to get the oxygen they need from the air causing breathlessness and tiredness. Breathing air with a higher concentration of oxygen (for example using medical oxygen) can reduce these symptoms and improve your qualiy of life.
Your consultant will prescribe supplementary oxygen and advise you on how long you will need to use it each day, if they think you need it. Always follow your doctor, nurse and physiotherapist’s advice when using oxygen.
Usually your medical or nursing team will make the arrangements for the oxygen equipment to be delivered to your home. The engineer will explain to you, and your family, how to use oxygen and can answer any questions you may have. You can also contact your oxygen supply company for advice at any stage if you have questions.
Click on the link to read ILFA’s leaflet entitled Oxygen and Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis
Here’s a video about 3 patients sharing their experiences of using medical oxygen.
We hope you find it useful.
The two suppliers of medical oxygen in Ireland are;
Oxygen equipment consists of an oxygen concentrator, oxygen cylinders and portable oxygen.
The home oxygen concentrator, which runs off the electric supply in your home, filters oxygen from room air. This oxygen is then delivered by plastic tubing to a mask or nasal cannula – a small tube for breathing oxygen in through the nose. You will also be supplied with cannulae on a regular basis. The cannula should be replaced every month and the prongs washed daily in hot soapy water. Ask your engineer for extra length of tubing if needed.
You can also ask for a humidifier, which will make the oxygen less dry in your nose. The humidifier must be emptied and cleaned each day in hot soapy water and rinsed thoroughly to prevent bacterial contamination.
Your oxygen concentrator should be monitored and maintained regularly by your supplier to make sure it is always operating effectively.
Ask your supplier for a spare dust filter for the concentrator, so that this can be used when the other is being cleaned.
The oxygen concentrator is about the size of a portable heater and if you are using it for extended periods each day you will probably notice a rise in your electricity bills! It might be worth contacting your local health centre to see if there is any reimbursement scheme for this extra cost in your local area.
The Electricity Supply Board should be notified if you are dependent on home oxygen via an electrical concentrator. You can register your personal details with the ESB by completing a Priority Support Registration Form. This information is confidential and will enable the electricity supplier to identify customers who are dependent on electrically powered medical equipment and who are vulnerable to supply interruption. In the case of loss of electricity, the ESB will then prioritise your local area for electrical power restoration. When there is a planned electrical interruption, the electricity supplier will contact priority support customers to inform them in advance of the date and the likely duration of the disruption of the electricity supply.
To register as a Priority Support Customer contact
(1) ESB/Electric Ireland Tel: 1850 372 757
(2) Airtricity Tel: 1850 812 220
(3) Bord Gáis Tel: 1850 632 632
A back up oxygen cylinder will be supplied aloong with your home oxygen concentrator for use in case of an emergency, for example a power failure or a concentrator malfunction. The engineer from the oxygen comany will show you how to use the oxygen cylinder.
You will also be supplied with portable oxygen cylinders for use when you want to go out and about, go to work, do some shopping, visit friends or do a little gardening or walking/exercising. A bag is supplied with the portable cylinders so it can be carried on your shoulder or worn as a back pack.
It is useful to time yourself to establish how long it takes you to consume a cylinder of oxygen, so that you will know how many cylinders to bring with you when you go out.
It is a good idea to ALWAYS bring more than one portable cylinder out with you if you are going anywhere by car just in case you get stuck in a traffic jam or there are trafic diversions in place.
You should also carry a replacement battery for the conserver with you when you are using portable oxygen.
Most of the cost of the oxygen prescribed for you will be covered by the DRUGS PAYMENT SCHEME. This scheme ensures that no individual or family need pay more than €144 per month on prescription medicines including oxygen.
Your local HSE centre will advise you how to claim for this.
It is possible to go on holiday even if you are dependent on medical oxygen. Talk to your doctor before you travel to make sure that you are well enough and to organise an oxygeen prescription.
If you are travelling within Ireland, your oxygen supplier will try to arrange delivery of oxygen equipment to most locations, once proper notice is given. Contact your oxygen supplier at least 2-3 weeks before travelling.
If you are travelling abroad your oxygen supplier should be able to help you organise this.
Contact your oxygen supplier at least 6 weeks in advance of travelling.
Most airlines can supply oxygen on board the aircraft, but there is usually a fee for this.
Contact your airline to check the availability and cost of oxygen before you book. Also check if they have restrictions on carrying oxygen on board the aircraft.
Order oxygen when you are booking your flight. You will need to provide a prescription from your doctor to do this.