humidification during oxygen therapy


  • Specializes in Homecare Peds, ICU, Trauma, CVICU. Has 8 years experience.

I arrived at my pedi homecare case and noticed the kiddo was on 3L rather than the usual 1L. I asked the family why and they said they turned it up so that they may use the humidification because his nose was so dry. So I educated them on the reason's why the O2 shouldn't be higher than needed (he does have an order for 1-5L) and to use water soluble lubricant to help with the dryness.

OK, I've looked everywhere I could think, but can't find any mention of it. I know that for an oxygen flow of 3LPM or greater humidification should be used. But can/should you use it if the flow is 1-2 LPM? And if not, why? BTW he's using a NC if that matters.

Thanks in advance.


81 Posts

Specializes in LTAC.

A Respiratory Therapist explained it to me one time that 1-2L/min is not enough force to "bubble" the water in the container to humidify the air.

Specializes in NICU, PICU, educator.

We take our NC's down to 1/8L and we always, always use humidity on all our NCs. You should always use humidity with any NC so that the mucus membranes don't dry out. If there is a problem with dryness, have the family run a cool mist humidifier. In the unit, we will give the bigger kids blowby cool mist and if they are in an isolette, humidity to the isolette. Also, you can use NS gtts...we found that if you use the lubricant up the nose, it made for crusties and the nasal cannula tips would get hard after a while. (we use water soluble lub to hold tape down on our scalp IVs...the stuff turns to concrete when it dries! ). So, put on the humidifier/bubbler!


171 Posts

Another option is saline nasal spray/drops, applied directly into the nose every couple of hours. These are found OTC at pharmacies everywhere, you just have to be sure not to get the medicated ones.



1 Post

I have always used a bubble humidifer with O2 regardless of the liter flow, without any problem. I also use the saline nasal spray, if the Patient continues to complain of dryness. If you have ever had to wear O2 even for a short period of time it can be very irritating and can dry to nose quickly, I would recommend the humidifier on 1 lpm with the NC

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