How to Wear a Nasal Cannula Comfortably

Patients suffering from COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) may be prescribed supplemental oxygen delivered through large oxygen concentrators for use in the home, or portable oxygen equipment including tanks and reservoirs. A common complaint from users, particularly those using the equipment at night during sleep, is that the nasal cannula used to deliver the oxygen causes discomfort to the nose and ears.

Wear a cannula so that it causes a minimum of discomfort. The nasal cannula is a small piece of plastic tubing that is attached to a larger tube which, in turn, connects to the oxygen container. The cannula has two small prongs that are inserted into the nostrils. If the prongs are curved, they should point downward inside the nostrils.

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Lift the tubes on either side of the nose and fit them over the ears. Then move the slider up under the chin to adjust for fit.

Ease the discomfort to the face and nose by wrapping self-sticking white "hurt-free" fabric first aid tape around the cannula tube on each side, from the prongs all the way to the point where the tube fits over the ears.

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Wrap the fabric tape double thick at the points where the tube is in contact with the face if the tube leaves indentations or marks on the face during sleep. Also, be sure that the tube rests high up on the cheekbones.


The patient might want to have an extra cannula on hand to switch with the taped one, to be worn away from home.