Tips On Using Supplemental Oxygen With Children

Many babies and young children require oxygen treatment at home, and depending upon the condition this could be for a short period of time or long-term. Here are some tips to help make life a little easier when dealing with oxygen at home.

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The nasal cannula that supplies the oxygen to their nose requires fixing securely to the child’s face to ensure that the tubing does not become dislodged. Keeping the tubing fixed to a child can be difficult. You can use special cushioning plasters to have under the tubing so that it does not rub the child’s face and the fixing tape can be applied over the tubing and stick to these cushioning plasters. Also when you need to re-secure the tubing it means that you won’t have to keep pulling tape directly off of the child’s skin.

However if your child requires oxygen overnight it is best to use tape directly onto the skin to ensure more secure fixing to the skin in case they move in their sleep and the tubing moves. You can wet the tape warm water or baby lotion though using tissue or cotton wool so that the tape can be removed more easily without pulling your child’s skin or causing them discomfort.
Older children may not need the tubing to be taped as the tubing can be looped behind their ears abd the toggle pulled comfortably taught behind their head.

If your child has sensitive skin there are alternative tapes that can be used if your child has eczema or other sensitive or allergic reactions to the normal tape.
The use of petroleum-based creams such as Vaseline around the nose should be avoided as these react with oxygen and may cause soreness, however water based creams such as E45 or KY Jelly can be used instead.
If your child tries to pull the nasal cannula off then ensure that the tapes are secured closer to their nose, rather than on their cheeks and close to their ears to reduce the gap.

As your child gets older they become more active at night and they may wiggle around more. You could put mittens on your child’s hands at night to prevent them from being able to tug at the tubing. Also the tubing should be checked so that it doesn’t become wrapped around them. To prevent this you can thread the tubing down through their baby-gro or down through their pyjamas so that the tubing comes out by their feet and have the oxygen supply unit at the bottom of their crib or bed.

Some children resist wearing nasal cannulas or face masks and it can sometimes help to let them play with a spare one, to see it on another child or to put it on a favourite stuffed animal or toy. If your child’s face becomes irritated by the cannula then try using a face mask instead or the use of a humidifier can keep the oxygen moist and prevent nose irritation from dry air.

Children are very adaptable and may not always let you know when something is wrong therefore you will need to be observant for any changes that may indicate that they are not receiving enough oxygen. Such as them feeling drowsy or tired, morning headaches, shortness of breath, less active, breathing harder or has blue lips or nail beds. If these symptoms appear then you will need to call your doctor. It may just be an indicator that the oxygen rate needs to be adjusted or there may be a medical problem.

References: http://www.alderhey.nhs.uk and http://patients.thoracic.org

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