A nasal cannula, the two soft rubber prongs that fit into your nose, and the rubber tubing they attach to, are two very simple but important accessories you need for oxygen therapy. A standard cannula comes with each of our oxygen concentrators, and is pretty cheap when you need to replace it, no more than $6.00 for a regular rubber tube with nasal prongs. These are cheap, but why not make sure it lasts as long as it can?
It's also a good idea to order one longer before you know you will need to replace the one that you're using now. It's just quicker and more convenient to be able to switch it out, without having to order it and wait for it to come in the mail.
How often does the tubing need replaced when well taken care of?
This largely depends on how often you are using your oxygen concentrator. If you clean your tubing and cannula properly and you are using it all day every day, you can expect to need to replace it once a month. If you are using it for half the day, such as during the night, it will need replaced every 2 months. In these cases, the best thing to do would be to stock up on them, so you only need to place an order for your cannula supply once a year, or every 6 months.
How should I clean the rubber tubing?
There is one thing you absolutely have to do, or you risk getting sick from bacteria build-up in the nasal prongs – you have to wipe them down with an alcohol swab directly after each use. You shouldn't use any other type of cleanser that is milder than alcohol, since not many things kill bacteria as sufficiently as rubbing alcohol. Getting sick can be very dangerous for people with chronic lung conditions, so you have to be mindful of this.
You can clean the tubing and the nasal prongs by soaking them in warm water with a very small amount of dish soap and regular white vinegar. Be sure to rinse it out thoroughly with hang it to dry before using it again. White vinegar is great at killing bacteria, and it won't slowly eat away at the rubber the way many types of chemical detergents will.
Don't try to cut corners on replacing the rubber tubing, especially if you've been sick. You will absolutely need to replace them, or you risk the bacteria left over from your illness getting worse, and getting you sick all over again. It's always better safe than sorry when it comes to your health. The cost of a new nasal cannula is definitely worth keeping you healthy.