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Oxygen isn't helping?

Carolyn Cruickshanks

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Talk with dad's medical team on this one ASAP -- it's not a good idea to adjust the oxygen flow on your own unless your medical team has trained you and you are doing it with the aid of something that goes on the fingertip to measure oxygen saturation in the body -- I forget the name of that gizmo now. The flow rate was set (or should have been) based on the oxygen saturation of the cells and we were told that over-saturation (i.e. more supplemental oxygen flow than was needed) can cause problems of its own.

It's possible to have enough oxygen flow and yet feel short of breath from constricted and clogged air passages -- was a constant issue with my mom and her repeats with pneumonia -- there are inhaled breathing treatments that (I think) use steroids to help and meds to treat anxiety that help. Anxiety builds when a person feels short of breath and that anxiety can just constrict things worse....ask any asthmatic.

Hope this helps and keep us posted.


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I'm very sorry to hear that this SOB is happening to your Dad. It really stinks and I probably could write a book about this topic. The pneumonia may not have completely resolved either. Is he exercising his lungs with one of those plastic spirometers? That's very important to keep airflow and junk moving out in the right direction.

Linda did hit the pertinent points -- too much oxygen is not a good thing. The office should have a blood/oxygen saturation meter available to test him and make sure he is at the right liters. We just called it the finger thingy. :wink:

Sadly, this often happens as the lungs become more scarred, thickened, or obstructed by tumors. Sometimes different treatments have a negative effect on breathing too. My husband did use Advair 250/50 2x per day throughout his journey, with an emergency inhaler as a back-up. He also had a home nebulizer that we used. Our Oncologist never utilized steroids, so have no comment on those. Please have them check for pleural/cardio effusion issues. These can really suck the breath out of him also.

Good luck and keep us posted. Feel free to write with any questions.


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Thank you Welthy for triggering my memory :D . Yes, my mom used a home nebulizer (though I don't remember at this point whether some of those nebulized meds had a steroid component or not...I think they did) and Advair diskus for bronchial constriction due to anxiety (plus some other oral anti-anxiety meds).

I'm going to add to please not panic about the oxygen issue, in general. Oxygen is doing what it needs to without a worry about major obstructions somehow undermining it's effectiveness, from my experience. My mom was on 6 liters O2 continuous for much of the time -- that kept her oxygen saturation at 100% (she was stage 3b with pneumonia issues, among other things). There were points in her treatment that we were able to reduce her to 3 liters continuous.....oxygen therapy can go to 10+ liters continuous, if need be, from what I witnessed. Please do not stress that oxygen supplementation will some how fail your dad. The SOB issue is most likely from some contributing factor that your dad's medical team can address.

By the way, Welthy is right about exercises for the lungs helping with the need for supplemental oxygen. My mom didn't get the spirometer therapy, but she did have physical therapy which required her to "work" her lungs -- that's how we were able to get her supplemental oxygen requirements down for periods of time. Other complications, in her case, thwarted our efforts :( , but it did work.

One last thing since I'm on a roll here.....the measurements for supplemental oxygen support should have been made in both a resting state and "under work" state -- i.e. an evaluation of what happens to his oxygen saturation when he is active is important, not just what his saturation is when he is resting.

All the best to you,


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