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Oxygen therapy

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My dad has recently been diagnosed with colon cancer with lung, liver and bone metastasis. We have been told he is for palliative care. The question is about his home oxygen. His SATS are between 88-94%. The GP is saying that because he is complaining of headaches and nausea that it needs highering, does this sound right? Or could it be he doesn't need to have the oxygen on all the time?



JaneL - Macmillan
Posted by

Hi Jenny

Thanks for getting in touch and welcome to the online community. I appreciate you want your dad to be as comfortable as possible whilst he is receiving palliative care at home.

The aim of palliative care is to help control any symptoms your dad may have and to improve his quality of life. Lower oxygen sats between 88-94% can cause headaches and nausea, and it may be increasing the rate of oxygen or length of time your dad uses it may help with this. However, studies have shown that often increasing oxygen rates when using oxygen in palliative care may not improve these symptoms when compared with room air. The British Thoracic Society guidelines suggest that oxygen therapy be used in patients who are very breathless and whose oxygen sats are lower than 92%.

However, if your dad is struggling to tolerate keeping the oxygen therapy on and he is not distressed because of breathlessness, taking breaks should be ok. If he has a palliative care team involved in his care, it would be useful to have a chat with them about your concerns. Your dad’s GP will be able to refer him to a local team if he/she has not already done so. There are medications he could try to control the nausea and his GP will be able to prescribe these for him. And perhaps assessing his pain control and making some adjustments to this may help with his headaches.

I hope this information is helpful but don’t hesitate to get back in touch if you have further questions and of course you are welcome to call the support line. We are here 7 days a week, 8am- 8pm.

Best Wishes

Jane Macmillan Information Nurse Specialist