Asthma UK community forum

Oxygen cylinder

I've just been given an oxygen cylinder for emergency use by my doctor, mainly because there seems to be a bit of an ambulance shortage in Notts at the moment, made worse by the World Cup, and I was getting edgy about how long I might have to wait for an ambulance.

It's a small cylinder, 300 litres, PD. I was experimenting to make sure I know how to use it in an emergency, and it only goes up to 4l/min, which just barely drives a neb pretty slowly, I reckon it would take 20 - 30 mins to do a whole neb. Obviously in an emergency I need to be able to back-to-back nebs as quickly as possible as well as getting extra O2.

My husband says I should use my neb and mains driven compressor in the normal way and stick the oxygen tubing through one of the holes in the neb mask to give a bit of extra O2, but that doesn't sound very scientific to me! Obviously I'm going to go back to my doc to ask if I need one with a faster flow rate, but I just wondered what type of oxygen cylinders others have got and how they get round this problem.

Obviously, I only would be using it for emergencies and ideally it needs to be transportable for going away etc, so a concentrator (which I know some of you have) would be completely inappropriate.

Hope you can help

Em H

6 Replies

I know it's not ideal, but when I'm on 4L I both neb and use the nasal cannulas for O2 whilst nebbing with my mask, so hopefully benefit of both, but trouble is you need to breathe in the neb mist through your nose to get both at same time, so can be a bit of a chest disaster.

You do need to sort this the O2 really solely for driving your nebs? ~~DO you have a SATS monitor so you can use O2 for when they drop rather than for when you are depserate for a neb....??

I'm not allowed home O2, and have presented twice recently just for O2. Pain in backside but need to be safe with my splattiness.



Thanks Sus, I suppose I could get some nasal cannulae to use with it, though I don't think I tend to breath through my nose in a bad attack anyway.

I have thought about getting a sats meter, but I don't tend to drop my sats until I'm pretty unwell and need to be on the way to costa anyway, and I reckon I can tell when I'm at that stage!

It's not so much that the O2 is solely for nebbing, it's more that it's only to use in an emergency during a rapid onset attack, whilst waiting for the ambulance, at which time I need to be having back-to-back nebs anyway. My GP has made it quite clear to me that it's for use whilst waiting for an ambulance rather than as a substitute for calling one! That's maybe why they only gave me a small cylinder, so that there wasn't the temptation to sit at home on oxygen rather than coming in - like you, I have rather too rapid splatts to make that a safe option.

I'm a bit worried that with what I've got currently, I'm going to have to decide between rapid nebulisation and oxygen when I'm really unwell - not an ideal situation to be in!


Hi Em,

I have used home O2 since 1999 and have both F size and CD size cylinders.

The CD ones with the integrated head sets come with 2 & 4 litre flow rates and also 1 to 15lts flow rates. I use the small ones when out & about on 2-4 ltrs or with a conserver - bit like a diving valve - gives o2 via canulas on demand. I have the 1-15s so I can use in an emergency and also neb if needed.

This is while waiting for the paramedics!

I also seem to have at the mo a ZH cylinder with a huge capacity and a 1-15 ltrs.

Mine is delivered and suplied by Vitalair (BOC)

I would ask for a higher flow rate for emergencies! I assume you will be sensible with it. LOL!

Hope this helps.

Take care




I have cylinders that do .5 to 15 litres from Air products so I can either use nasal canula and my baby neb or drive the neb through them. Who are your supliers sounds like you need to just clarify with the GP what you need and to make sure he puts 6lmp on the dreaded form and they should be able to sort it.



hello EmilyH,

Hope your ok and not splatting to much. I don't know who delivers your oxygen? My cylinders are now delivered by air products, I have little portable cylinders for use on exercise they go from .5 to 15 litres and for nebbing through at home I have the X10s which are just over 2ft tall they also go from .5 to 15 litres. Obviously X10s last alot longer than the little portable ones for nebbing but the portable ones are ideal for getting me to hospital its not unusual for me to turn up in A&E on 15L of o2. I used to get my cylinders from BOC before the big change over and from them I had CD and AF cylinders, the AFs were more or less the same as X10s except they didn't have a built in headset. For AFs I had to get a headset from the pharmacy which only went from 2-4L so that was no good. I asked my asthma nurse if they had an spare headsets and she gave me a tap like they use in hospital to screw on top of the cylinder and that did the job. I also have 2 concentrators at home which I can have upto 10L on if I join them together but I only really do that if I need it continuously or I suddenly run out of cylinders. I had the problem with cylinders that only went from 2-4L when I started getting them which was kind of useless becuase my cons wanted me to neb through oxygen. So I ended up not using them and just whacking my concentrator upto 5L and just nebbing through my normal neb, I managed to get it sorted with my asthma nurse though, she told my consultant what I needed and everything has ran smoothly since.

Keep us posted on how your getting on,

tks xxxxx


Thank you

Thank you everyone, you have confirmed what I thought, that I am not being daft or using the cylinder wrong! I will ask my doctor for another cylinder or another tap that will allow this cylinder to go up to 10 or 15l/min.

After all no A&E department would hopefully put an asthmatic having an acute severe attack on 4l/min!

Thanks again

Em H xxx


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