It is so hard to get used to using supplemental oxygen. I still remember my shock and anger when told I would have to cart oxygen around whenever I moved about. I couldn’t believe it! I had a few choice words to say to my doctor about that.
As my disease worsens, I’ve had to transition to 24/7 oxygen use. My last hold-out was using oxygen in the shower. It was the one time I allowed myself to be oxygen-free for 15 minutes a day. Once I started to dip below 90-percent oxygen saturation when standing in the shower, I gave in and wore it in the shower, too.
It was amazing to see how my attitude changed about having to make this transition. For months, I would tell my husband how wonderful it was to not use oxygen in the shower, and how I didn’t know how I could ever adjust in the future. Once I started needing it, my attitude changed. I saw it as a friend that I really needed to help me take a soothing shower.
Emotionally, I really resisted this transition, but once it came I was fine with it. I really enjoy a shower to start my day. It soothes my aches and pains and clears out my sinuses so I can breathe easier. I’m so glad I have oxygen to help me do something I enjoy.
- Increase your liters per minute when in the shower. Standing takes more oxygen than sitting.
- Use an oximeter before you get in the shower to see if your levels are over 90 percent before you turn the water on. Also, test it after you get out. Adjust your oxygen liters per minute as needed.
- Make sure your cannula is long enough to make it to the shower and over the door easily. It’s no fun having the oxygen cord pulling on you like a dog with a leash!
- Secure the cannula inside the shower so it doesn’t pull on you. Be careful to not pinch the cord. See my video below for an example.
- If you aren’t able to stand, or prefer not to, you can buy a shower chair to sit on so you are safe.
- Consider purchasing a detachable showerhead attachment. It will help you have control over where the water is going and make bathing easier.
- Make sure to use the exhaust fan in the bathroom when you shower to suck the moist air out of your bathroom. The room can get warm and humid and make you even more tired. It can also be damaging to your oxygen concentrator to take in steam from your bath or shower.
- Have grab bars installed in your shower. This can help you avoid injuries from slipping and falling in the shower.
- Move your concentrator outside the bathroom or far away from the shower to keep it from getting wet.
- If it doesn’t make your oxygen drop too much, you can take off your cannula briefly while you wash your face and rinse your hair.
- Do not lock your bathroom door and tell someone you are taking a shower.
- Keep your oximeter and phone just outside the shower door. Make sure they don’t get wet as you enter and exit the shower door.
Taking a shower or bath takes some preparation and can wear you out. I often have to lie down on my bed to rest for a while afterward. I encourage you to go slow, be careful, and enjoy the experience. Here’s a short video that might help.
I’d love to hear from you
Do you use oxygen in the shower? What tips do you have for us to make it a little easier?
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Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.
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