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Nasal Cannula and its use

Apr 07, 2017

Nasal Cannula and its use

Nasal cannula is an instrument for oxygen therapy and is used to deliver oxygen to people who cannot, otherwise, draw enough oxygen through normal respiration. It consists of a thin tube, one end of which is connected to the nostrils of the patient and the other end to an oxygen generator or flowmeter. It is hooked around the ears so that it rests inside the nostrils of the patient providing him with constant supply of oxygen mixed with air.

Oxygen therapy is given to people suffering from various respiratory conditions which include asthma, cystic fibrosis, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, sleep apnea etc. Besides, people suffering from acute conditions like heart failure are also administered with nasal cannula. Depending on the oxygen level flowing in bloodstream, nasal cannulas are administered with different flow rates. They usually carry oxygen at lower flow rates with concentrations ranging from 40% to 60% between 10-12 litres per minute. For higher flow rates, usually oxygen face masks are used; however, special nasal cannulas with higher flow rates are also available. Though both face masks and nasal cannulas serve the same purpose, the latter is more popular for its lightweight, portability and convenience.

Despite of its life granting advantages, few risks are also associated with the use of nasal cannulas. The most common one being nasal dryness. It is, however, noteworthy that some modern devices add moisture and warmth while delivering oxygen, serving as a solution to this problem. Besides prolonged use of oxygen supplements like nasal cannula and face mask can cause lung damage or pulmonary oxygen toxicity. In certain cases, it might also prove harmful to the eyes. Therefore, if symptoms like irritation in skin and blue fingernails or lips are observed while using these devices, immediate help must be sought as these may be signs of counterproductive results from taking oxygen supplements.

Disclaimer: The information given in this write-up is purely for educating the reader. It is not meant to be a substitute for any advice from a medical expert.

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