HomeHealth TopicRespiratory

Oxygen Therapy: How to Use Oxygen in Metal Tanks

In this video, learn how to use an oxygen cylinder (metal tank), a common method used for oxygen therapy.

Preeti Parikh, MD
Written by Brittany Doohan | Reviewed by Preeti Parikh, MD
Published on July 8, 2020

Oxygen is one of the gases found in the air that we breathe, and getting adequate oxygen is vital for life. Oxygen feeds every cell in your body so your organs can function the way they’re supposed to.

If you have a chronic lung disease, however, you may need an extra oxygen boost to make sure everything is running smoothly. This is called oxygen therapy. Oxygen therapy can help you feel better and stay active.

What to Know About Oxygen Tanks

Oxygen therapy is commonly used in the hospital, but it can also be used at home or on the go. One way to deliver oxygen to your lungs is through oxygen cylinders, which is compressed oxygen in metal tanks.

Depending on the size of your oxygen tank, you can wheel it around or carry it in a shoulder bag. Smaller tanks hold less oxygen, and larger tanks hold more oxygen. Your tank size will depend on your body’s needs, so check with your doctor to learn what size is right for you.

Some people use a conserver device to help them use less oxygen. That’s because conservers deliver oxygen in bursts when you inhale, instead of providing a continuous flow of oxygen. The use of a conserver is based on your needs as well, so check with your doctor to see if you need one.

Your tank will also have an oxygen regulator which shows you how much oxygen is left in your tank.

How to Use Your Oxygen Cylinder (Metal Tank)

  1. Attach the regulator or conserver, if you use one.

  2. Attach your nasal tube or face mask.

  3. Turn on the oxygen to your prescribed flow rate.

  4. Using a conserver? You won’t feel oxygen flow until you inhale.

You’re all set! Oxygen is now flowing.

Clean your nasal tube or face mask weekly with mild dish soap, but be sure not to get water in the tubes. If it gets damaged, you can get a new one from your oxygen supplier.

Getting used to your oxygen tank may take time, but with practice, your confidence—and your oxygen levels—will grow.

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