COVID-19 has raised many questions for oxygen users. They range from the practical – how to fit so many things behind your ears – to critical questions about health. Your peers weigh in with advice.
Wearing a mask with oxygen was awkward at first, but now Kristine Green of Missoula, Montana, is used to it.
“I just put it over the cannula,” Kristine says. “The only bad thing is if I have to sneeze, because I don’t want to sneeze into my cannula!
Jessica Romero of Santa Fe, New Mexico, has used supplemental oxygen most of her life and has been wearing masks for four years. “It protects me, and I don’t mind.”
Find out how other patients manage pandemic-related oxygen concerns:
Try a face shield, as did Kathy Anderson of Greenfield, Indiana. They are more comfortable than masks, she says. “The more we wear [masks], the more we adapt and adjust.” Sharyn Robbins of Las Vegas invested in a plastic face shield because it felt less restrictive.
Watch out for tangles. “Sometimes I get the cannula, mask straps and my glasses tangled. I’m good at getting everything tangled!” says Lisa Waldron of Ogden, Utah. Lisa Perrotta of Long Island, New York, can empathize with that issue. “My problem is no ear space! Between the glasses, the O2 and the mask, my ears are struggling,” she says.
Try wearing your cannula around the back of your head instead of under your chin, as does Leslie Polss of West Chester, PA. “That might make mask wearing easier,” says Leslie, who wears glasses.
Breathe through your nose and not your mouth, advises Donna Head of Stapleton, Alabama. Wearing a mask with her oxygen helps her avoid breathing the air in her mask. “I just have to remember. I have only been on oxygen for a little over a month, so I have always used it with a mask.”
Try different kinds of masks to find the best fit. Some masks are easier than others to keep on your ears along with the cannula, says Brenda McCowan of Venice, Florida, who considers those her “best” masks.
Or skip the ear loops altogether. “Zebra Lady” Barbara Thompson of Memphis, Tennessee, prefers masks that go around the head because they don’t irritate her ears. See her demonstration in this video.
Stock up on sanitizer. While wearing a mask with oxygen isn’t easy, it can be done, says Diane Schwartz of Gainesville, Georgia. She uses lots of hand sanitizer for taking masks on and off, taking her cannula on and off, and reattaching everything. “The glasses are another thing to wrangle,” she says. “I find it a lot harder to breathe with the mask on; I just have to pace myself.
Accept your limits. “I don’t have a problem with the mask and oxygen, but the hearing aids stay at home,” says Sandi Covey of Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
Adjust your ear straps. Jeannie Kendrick’s sister taught her to twist the ears loops of the mask before putting it on. “It gives a little tiny bit of air space, which makes it easier to breathe,” says Jeannie of Sicklerville, New Jersey.
This article shouldn’t be construed as medical advice. Consult your health care provider for medical advice.
“Zebra Lady” Barbara Thompson of Memphis, Tennessee