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Ambulatory Oxygen

If you are an active person whose oxygen levels decrease when you are moving about, then you may be suitable for portable oxygen. Portable oxygen is usually supplied in small cylinders; these weigh about 2-3kg (6-7lb) and come with a shoulder carrying case. The oxygen will last for approximately 2-3 hours (depending on the amount of oxygen you require).

A conserving device may be provided to increase the duration of the cylinder. The conserver device allows you to receive the oxygen supply in time with your breathing – you get a pulse of oxygen when you breathe in and no oxygen is wasted when you breathe out. Unfortunately, conservers are not suitable for everyone and your healthcare professional will be able to advise you if you are suitable for this device. Conservers are not usually suitable for children.

If your healthcare professional thinks you may be suitable for ambulatory oxygen, you will need an assessment of your oxygen levels during exercise. You will usually be asked to walk as far as possible in six minutes with an oxygen probe (oximeter) on your finger or earlobe to monitor your oxygen levels. The walk may be repeated several times with and without oxygen, to determine if oxygen will be of any benefit to you during exercise. During the test you will be able to stop as often as you need and you can walk at your own pace. A rest period is allowed between each walk test. Once the walk tests have been completed the healthcare professional will decide if you need ambulatory oxygen. Again an order form will be sent to the oxygen supplier for your area.

Click below to see a video of a 6 Minute Walk Test.

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