When your lungs cannot function effectively to deliver oxygen throughout your body, you may need oxygen therapy. While it is very useful for ensuring that all cells and tissues of the body are functioning properly, this therapy has some side effects. A common problem caused by oxygen therapy is a dry nose and throat. Want to avoid this problem? Start reading step 1.
Method 1 of 2: Understanding Oxygen Therapy
Step 1. Know when oxygen therapy is needed
When the lungs can't deliver enough oxygen to the rest of the body, your doctor may recommend oxygen therapy. Conditions that can impair lung function and require oxygen therapy include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (usually from smoking), chronic asthma, interstitial lung disease, bronchiectasis, pulmonary hypertension, lung cancer, and heart failure.
To determine if you need oxygen therapy, your doctor will probably measure your blood's partial oxygen pressure (or PaO2). A PaO2 value below 7.3 kPa (55 mmHg) indicates that oxygen therapy is required. A PaO2 value between 7.3 and 7.8 kPa (55 to 59 mmHg) accompanied by symptoms of oxygen deprivation (such as leg swelling, increased red blood cell count, pulmonary hypertension, or a mental disorder) also indicates that oxygen therapy is needed
Step 2. Understand how to administer oxygen therapy
Depending on your condition, oxygen therapy may be given in the hospital, or at home for the treatment of chronic illnesses. Basically, there are 3 ways of administering oxygen therapy:
- With a face mask. In this therapy, oxygen is flowed through a face mask that covers the nose and mouth.
- With a nasal cannula. In this therapy, oxygen is delivered through a small tube placed in the nostril.
- With a transtracheal tube. Oxygen therapy is given through a tube that is inserted through a skin incision directly into the trachea.
Step 3. Consider possible side effects
Your mouth, nose, and throat may be dry while on oxygen therapy. You may also experience nosebleeds, headaches, fatigue, infections, and skin irritation. Don't let these side effects get in the way of the oxygen therapy you need. Many of these side effects (including dry nose and throat) are preventable.
Method 2 of 2: Preventing a Dry Nose and Throat
Step 1. Use a humidifier
The main cause of dry mouth and throat is lack of moisture. Thus, it can be overcome by using a humidifier. Humidifiers are available as a complement to an oxygenation system, and even your appliance may have one. The humidifier will humidify the oxygen and prevent dry conditions.
- The use of a humidifier is most important if you are using a transtracheal tube. If you go the other way, using a humidifier shouldn't be a problem, but it may not be absolutely necessary. For methods of administering oxygen other than transtracheal, you are better off using a saline spray.
- Always use sterile or distilled water for the humidifier, as tap water can clog or leave deposits in the hose.
- Change the water in the bottle every 1 or 2 days. Once a week, clean the entire humidifier (as well as the cannula and rubber hose if you can) with distilled water and soap. This step will prevent the growth of microbes on the device that will infect the respiratory tract.
Step 2. Increase the humidity of the room
In addition to using a humidifier on an oxygen therapy device, you can also try using a room humidifier to increase the humidity. A room humidifier is especially useful at night, when people tend to breathe through their mouths.
- Clean the room humidifier regularly, at least once a week, to prevent microbial growth.
- If you don't have a room humidifier, use a water kettle. Fill the kettle with water and heat it on the stove until it boils. Water vapor will come out of the funnel of the kettle and humidify the room air. Repeat this step as often as you need.
Step 3. Keep your equipment in good condition
Nasal tubes and cannula must be kept in good condition to reduce side effects. In addition to cleaning regularly, you should also use a mild detergent and water to clean the equipment regularly. You should also replace the tube and cannula every 6 months.
Step 4. Try lubricating jelly
Jelly and similar lubricating products can temporarily relieve a dry and irritated nose, as well as soothe and moisturize the nasal mucosa. Aloe vera gel and other water-soluble products work well. Your doctor or oxygen equipment provider may recommend certain jelly, lotion, or balm products to use. Whatever you use, simply dab a thin layer over your lips and inside your nostrils with a clean cotton swab. Repeat 2 or 3 times a day.
- Be careful not to apply too much, and don't let any product get into the cannula (if you're using one). Do not disturb the flow of oxygen, or the effectiveness of your treatment will be reduced.
- Do not use petroleum-based products such as petroleum jelly. This product may cause a fire when used in conjunction with an oxygen tank.
Step 5. Apply sesame oil
Sesame oil has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiviral properties, and can soothe mucous membranes. Apply a thin layer of sesame oil inside the nostrils and over the lips with a clean cotton swab. Repeat 2 or 3 times a day.
Sesame oil is available at most natural grocery stores
Step 6. Spray the saline solution into the nose and throat
The saline spray available at most pharmacies contains the same 0.9% sodium chloride solution as body fluids. This spray will moisturize the surface of the mucous membranes of the nose and throat. Spray once into each nostril every 1 or 2 hours (or as needed, as this spray is safe to use as often as possible). Wipe the nozzle with sterile gauze or tissue after each use.
If the taste doesn't bother you, you can also squirt the saline solution down your throat
Step 7. Discuss the use of medications with your doctor
If none of the steps above help prevent a dry nose and throat, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may recommend a nasal decongestant (such as Oxymetazoline or Xylometazoline), which can be used every 4 to 6 hours.