Taking a Shower with Supplemental Oxygen

Taking a Shower with Supplemental Oxygen

Just breathe, passionate help for the PF journey

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.

Facing reality

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.

Helpful tips

  • 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.

Enjoy!

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?

Please leave a comment below and share with those who could benefit via email or on social media.

***

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.

19 comments

  1. Roger Mills says:

    Good morning Kim,

    I was just told by phone call that i will be needing to use oxygen at night because my reading dropped below 88 for nine minutes. I was diagnosed in April 2016. So, the info you provide here is some that i will be needing in the future. I really appreciate you posting this info. If you have any advice for a first time night oxygen user, i would love to have it. Take care and thank you….Roger Mills

    • Hi Roger. I remember getting that news too. I was too happy because I thought it would be really hard. Turned out it wasn’t. Realize it will take a little getting used to, but not too much. At first I worried about whether sleeping on my side would cut off the oxygen, but it didn’t. I think it was more difficult emotionally to have to get used to one more thing, than it was to adjust to physically. A wonderful result was I started sleeping a lot better. It is a blessing over all…just more adjusting. Great question Roger, I think I’ll write a column on it!

  2. Terry Moriarty says:

    I put my phone and medical emergency alert device in a ziplock bag and put it on the bench ledge that is at one end of my shower. If I did fall, I could get to them without having to fuss with opening the shower door. I can push the buttons through the bag and the devices are water protected. Thanks for the other ideas.

  3. Dave Raedeker says:

    I have a five foot wide shower with grab bars. I use a chair in the shower that is made for that purpose. I use oxygen while I take my shower. I turn the O2 flow up while I am taking my shower and this works well for me. As time goes by I have modified my shower process as my body has changed. I keep my smart phone close by if a problem occurs. I feel safe and fortunate to have the setup in my home. Thanks for your words of wisdom.

  4. Dave says:

    We replaced our shower door with a curtain that allows air to move more freely. Also, don’t close bathroom door if you able to maintain privacy.

  5. Andy from Virginia says:

    Kim, thank you for the article. My IPF is progressing now and one of the last areas I don’t use O2 is the shower. But of late taking a shower is now turning in to an ordeal. I will have to give this a try. Thank you for tips and video.

  6. Rhonda says:

    I started using my oxygen while showering a few months ago. My shower is now much more relaxing and enjoyable. A person does not always Realize how exerting a shower can be and toweling off afterwards. I also have my phone within reach in case of a fall or emergency.

  7. E. hays says:

    Good afternoon, Kim. Thanks so much for today’s info re showering with my constant companion the ever-present oxygen cannula and connecting hoses. I was told sometime ago by my excellent pulmonologist and best friend (my husband Jack)not to take my oxygen off when taking a shower! I tried but found it so annoying I gave up after only 2 showers accompanied by the green snake that kept sliding the shower door open. Tonight I’ll try again and I’m betting I can make it all work. (Plus Jack says he’s gonna be in the shower with me!)

  8. Beverly Mix says:

    Using oxygen in the shower helps the day start better. It was tough to get used to. I have a little hook in the shower for my loofah and I hang my cannula on it while I wash and/or exfoliate my face. Handy and I can reach it quickly. And blow drying hair is much easier if I keep the oxygen flowing. Sometimes it seems as there are too many things we have to learn to cope with but we are still learning to cope and that beats the alternative. Enjoying my morning coffee with my spouse is still a privilege for me.

    • Dear Beverly,
      Sounds like you have some great ideas to make showering work for you. I’m so glad. Love your comment, “we are still learning to cope and that beats the alternative.” So true…Enjoying meaningful moments are so important.

  9. Joyce Douglas says:

    thank you Kim. So good to have these great suggestions about using the Oxygen in the shower. I have a couple of times now and it makes the shower much more enjoyable and not so tiring. I will hook the hose over the shower curtain rather than around it…less water outside the tub.
    It is best to have a hook or two to hang the hose on rather than have it fall to the floor. So far I don’t need a bath chair as I’m able to stand to shower, but it may come to that. Nice to have that clean feeling.

  10. Cheryl says:

    Hi Kim…I always look forward to your column. My husband Larry has used his oxygen in the shower for a long time. When he shaves and washes his face he puts the cannula in his mouth to breathe, and then switches it back to his nose as needed. He had a hip replacement five weeks ago so that made showering even more difficult for him, but he used the shower chair and I got in the shower to help him until he could do it on his own again. We have a very large shower so it makes it easy for him, and less claustrophobic as well since the shower surround is clear glass.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *