Nasal Cannula

Table of Contents

Nasal cannula is a type of oxygen therapy done by placing a tube – which on one end splits into two prongs that are placed in the nostrils. This is an oxygen delivery device.

Apart from nasal cannula, there are other oxygen therapy devices such as simple oxygen masks, rebreathing and non-rebreathing.

Oxygen therapy is given during an emergency especially if you have insufficient supply of oxygen (hypoxia). Thus, you need a breathing aid device.  

You may benefit from a nasal cannula. It can provide oxygen at a tidal volume and at a steady breathing rate.

Nasal cannula is relatively easy to use. Due to its small size, you can do other activities such as eating and talking. Nasal cannula can provide oxygen support at a flow rate of up to 60 liters per minute. 

One of the few things that need to be considered when using a nasal cannula is that the oxygen supply can be reduced if you breathe through the mouth. This may cause mucous membrane irritation.

Purposes of Nasal Cannula

As a device that delivers supplemental oxygen, nasal cannula helps you meet your needs of oxygen supply especially if you have hypoxia. Some things to consider before using a nasal cannula are:

  • Talk with your doctor about the treatment plan
  • Try to get a comprehensive explanation about the nasal cannula procedure.
  • Prepare other equipment, such as an oxygen cylinder with a socket, a manometer, and a humidifier

It is important to make sure all the tools can function properly. Inserting a nasal cannula into the nostrils must be done with the correct tube position and technique. 

Various types of oxygen therapy given to patients without hypoxia will not provide any benefit – rather, it may be harmful to the patients. Regular monitoring is very important after you complete the procedure.

Oxygen therapy with a nasal cannula is enough to provide low-type oxygen. You are advised to have another type of oxygen therapy if your oxygen needs pass the maximum limit – which is 1 to 4 liters per minute without a humidifier and 1 to 10 liters per minute with a humidifier.

Cost Estimation for Nasal Cannula

Prior to making the decision to have oxygen therapy with a nasal cannula, you should consult your doctor first. It should be noted that nasal cannula is not designed to overcome all conditions of inadequate oxygenation.

For more details regarding the cost estimation for nasal cannula, contact Smarter Health.

Pre-Nasal Cannula 

The technique of using nasal cannula starts from preparing the patient, the equipment used, and the procedure. Some important things to consider before actually using a nasal cannula include ensuring the patient’s condition, finding the size of the nasal cannula, and determining the rate of oxygen needed by the patient. 

Here are some things to prepare before using a nasal cannula: 

  • Make sure you understand the purpose of each procedure performed during oxygen therapy with a nasal cannula.
  • Your doctor will conduct a clinical assessment to confirm that you need a nasal cannula. Your doctor may use an oximeter to check if you have hypoxia. Oximeter functions to measure oxygen levels and oxygen saturation (oxygen concentration) in your blood without having to insert any device into your body
  • Your doctor will make sure there is no obstruction or blockage in your nose and pharynx. If you have excess mucus, your doctor will remove it using a suction device.
  • Ask your doctor about the instructions regarding the number of doses of oxygen flow you will receive, the duration of therapy, titration, and routine monitoring

During Nasal Cannula

All the equipment used in the nasal cannula oxygen therapy must function properly. The equipment involved during the procedure may include: 

  • Using the right cannula prong size
  • Oxygen cylinder as a source of oxygen.
  • Oxygen regulator attached to a cylinder or other oxygen source.
  • Flow meter to control the speed of oxygen flow
  • Humidifier to humidify the air.

The recommended position during the procedure is Semi-Fowler. The Semi-Fowler position is where you lie on your back with your head and body lifted up around 15 and 45 degrees to expand your lungs to the maximum capacity. You are allowed to use another position if the Semi-Fowler position is not possible.

Nasal Cannula Insertion Procedure

Nasal cannula must be inserted carefully. Your doctor may use special procedures to make sure you are comfortable and get the benefits of the device. Here are some things to you should know about the process of inserting the nasal cannula: 

  • Make sure the oxygen cylinder or other oxygen source is available and functions properly. Use an oxygen regulator, flow meter, and humidifier.
  • Your doctor should identify your symptoms so that you get the benefits of nasal cannula
  • Your doctor must wash his or her hands
  • Your doctor will explain how the nasal cannula is inserted
  • You will be asked to sit in the Semi-Fowler position or other possible positions.
  • Your doctor will connect the tube to the oxygen tube or other oxygen source.
  • Your doctor will activate the flow of oxygen by making sure you receive the right dose. 
  • Make sure the nasal prong arches downward. Then, the prong will be inserted into your nasal cavity.
  • The two sides of the tube are positioned above and behind your ear.
  • Place the cannula at the bottom of your chin with fixation.
  • Your doctor will monitor your condition and any possible clinical responses. Your doctor will also continue to routinely check your oxygen flow distributed through the cannula from an oxygen cylinder or other oxygen sources.

Post-Nasal Cannula 

People who breathe through the nasal cannula may experience nasal dryness – especially if you receive high levels of oxygen.

After the procedure, you should tell your doctor if any complications arise. In some cases, you may develop lung damage or a condition known as pulmonary oxygen toxicity. This condition may also lead to damage to the eye. 

Call your doctor immediately if you notice a bluish rash on your lips or nails – particularly if you begin to have difficulty breathing after using a nasal cannula.

Risks of Nasal Cannula 

The use of a nasal cannula for oxygen therapy is a relatively safe procedure. However, your doctor still has to monitor you regularly and stay aware of possible complications after the procedure. Some of the risks may include:

  • Skin irritation.
  • Nasal mucosa complications
  • Hyperoxia – a condition when you have high levels of oxygen
  • Hypercapnia – elevation in the partial pressure of carbon dioxide (PaCO2)

If you have a complication after the procedure, call your doctor to get the proper treatment immediately. Your doctor will also identify the underlying cause.

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