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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-26-2009, 06:43 PM Thread Starter
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Question about medical oxygen

Is air totally lacking in moisture bad for a person?

My niece came home from the hospital about three weeks ago on oxygen (the cannula in the nose, not a ventilator) and other than the small hassle of moving her while she's attached to this thing, it's been no big deal. However, I'm concerned that her portable O2 tanks are contributing to a respiratory problem, so if anyone knows a lot about this I'd appreciate input....

Evie was home for a week and a half before we learned that the oxygen in the portable tanks is 100% dry air, with no moisture in it at all. She's on a bigger machine when she's in her crib, one that has a bubbler to add moisture to the air, but for the 12 hours a day that she's up she's been on this totally dry air.

This past Sunday she had a very rough day - coughing a lot, throwing up a lot, turning kind of purple-ish when she would cough really hard..... So her dad freaked out about it, and Monday started calling some of the specialists she has seen and trying to get her appointments and figure out if there's something else wrong with her. (Besides the congenital heart defect she just had surgery for.) She's done much better since Sunday, and she's also had three doctor appointments relating to that day. So far no one has been able to find any specifically wrong that could explain Sunday's incident.

Today I got to thinking about her oxygen, and I'm wondering if this totally dry air that's being blown up her nose could be causing or aggravating her coughing. I'm thinking that if her nasal passages, throat and maybe part of her lungs are being dried out by this air, her body would react by coughing to try to bring up some moisture to those dry areas. She's not really taking any food by mouth right now, being fed instead with a feeding tube, so she's not getting any significant moisture to her throat or mouth to help the dryness. She really wants her brother's sippy cup, but the medical people have told my sister to actually avoid giving her water because of all the medications she's on and not wanting to flush them out of her body. Her diapers have been (to me) frighteningly dry, even though her feeding tube and pump are ensuring that she's getting plenty of food.

Anyone able to shed some light here?

~Diana, happy mom to Fern and Fergie
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-26-2009, 08:47 PM
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Re: Question about medical oxygen

I'm digging back in my memory, but I can't remember using a humidifier routinely with a nasal cannula. I believe that we did from time to time, though. The higher concentrations almost always use humidification.

You could have your sister call the doc to see if he thinks adding some moisture would be a good thing.

I'm sorry that Evie has had some rough days. Do they docs know about the drier diapers?


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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-26-2009, 11:02 PM
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Re: Question about medical oxygen

I would say it's a pretty safe bet that the dry oxygen is leading to throat/nasal irritation. I can remember having a nasal cannula in for a short term after surgeries and just in those couple of hours my nose and throat felt horrible.

God bless Evie and your family. I hope everything else is looking up for her.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-26-2009, 11:07 PM
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Re: Question about medical oxygen

When I was hospitalized back in November 2008 and February 2009 for asthma attacks, they had me on oxygen using the nasal cannula. The inside of my nose had gotten very dry, so I asked the nurse if she could do anything about it. They attached a bubbler to the oxygen. It was so much more comfortable. I don't know if this is what's bothering Evie, but does she have any problems during the night with the set up for her crib? Maybe her mom or dad can observe her during the night to see if she sleeps okay.

From what you described though, I think it's the lack of humidity that's getting to her little body. And as Leazie said, have Evie's parents mention the dry diapers to her doctors. To me, that's a very big red flag.

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