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Can a patient travel if they use oxygen?

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Find out how our expert answered

People who are prescribed home oxygen therapy can travel, though it requires a planning.

For holidays within the UK, oxygen can be provided free of charge through the patient’s existing oxygen supplier. A number of things need to be considered for those wishing to holiday outside the UK, not least whether they are fit enough to travel and have made plans for accessing healthcare should they require it at their destination.

The terrain and climate can make a difference; those who are able to walk on the flat may find their breathlessness more troublesome if they are going to a very hilly area and lower atmospheric oxygen levels at high altitude resorts may make breathing difficulties worse.

However, a need for oxygen, in itself, need not stop someone who is well enough to travel and oxygen, provided by local suppliers, can be hired for use abroad.

The mode of transport also needs to be considered; many patients who use oxygen will require supplementary oxygen if they wish to fly and should seek the advice of their respiratory nurse or doctor to determine whether this is a safe option for them.

Airlines have different arrangements for inflight oxygen provision and usually require documentation to be completed by the person wishing to travel and a healthcare professional.

Oxygen cylinders can be carried in a car provided they are secured safely. Patients need to consider the length of time that their oxygen cylinders will last in order to ensure that they have enough for their trip.

Although most patients can manage perfectly well without oxygen for a while, for those who tend to use it all the time running out of oxygen when away from the home can cause considerable anxiety.

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