oxygen headaches

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my son is 47 and has COPD. he is on oxygen but wakes up with horrible headaches. his level is 3 liters. should he increase it or decrease it? when he uses it during the day there is no problem but there is when he sleeps and most of the time takes it off during the night 

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  • Posted

    Rosemary, sorry to hear about your son. He is so young for having this condition.

    I am on oxygen, level 2, for 24/7, and I use to get the most horrible headaches after waking up from a full eight hours of sleep. Sometimes, I still wake up and find myself with a headache. They were horrible headaches, since every time I would move, especially move my head, my head would always throb badly for a few minutes, on top of the headache pain.

    I brought this to the attention of my doctor, and he informed me that it was due to not using my concentrated oxygen while sleeping. I would go to bed every night wearing my oxygen, but wouldn't realize that my oxygen nasal canula had fallen off during sleep. I always wondered about my nasal canula coming off while sleeping, and would be found laying on the floor beside my bed, after waking up. Not every time after sleep, but quite a few times, and most of those times I had a horrible headache, and had to take a very strong tylenol tablet, or aspirin, depending. I love taking B and C Aspirin Powder..the packets. They always help my type of headaches.  Also, the type of headaches I got would throb every time I would move..they were always horrible!

    My doctor told me about not having oxygen causing my headaches, but now I make sure my nasal canula stays on, and do not have headaches anymore (very rare if I do).

    My Pulmonologist informed me that my headaches happen because of low oxygen levels that are initiating the widening of blood vessels, and also the blood vessels of the brain are widening too. Also, people who frequently snore when they sleep, or those who sleep facedown, or sleep in poorly ventilated areas, are susceptible to getting cluster type headaches that result from restricted levels of oxygen.

    I had no idea that oxygen therapy has been a century-old mainstay in headache treatment in the West. But, even so, it is more beneficial to supply oxygen before the headache occur's, as compared to supplying oxygen after a headache occurs. 

    I hope this helps, and hoping he stops taking off his nasal canula, but if by wearing (all night) his nasal canula, and he still gets headaches, he should let his doctor know, since it could be medication or something else. For example, I have also heard that retaining of CO2 can cause headaches (also confusion too), but this is why his doctor should be informed about the headaches, especially if by wearing his nasal canula (all night) doesn't clear them up. 

    Brenda 

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  • Posted

    Rosemary, forgot to add....it is important to keep the oxygen level the 'same level' as what the doctor prescribed your son, even while sleeping.

    I have heard that if we turn up the oxygen, it could caused a higher level of CO2 in our blood, which can cause toxins to back up into our bodies. So just to be safe, I never upgrade my oxygen level.

    The obstruction (damaged tissue) of this condition keeps the gases (CO2) from leaving our bodies, which eventually builds up and backs up into our blood. I have heard that it is easier to bring in oxygen, but not as easy to release it out of our bodies, after it has been turned into Co2. 

    So, it is better not to raise the oxygen level while sleeping every night, and due to headaches, it is better not to lower the level also. CO2 can also cause headaches, but it is common to also have confusion associated with the headache too. 

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  • Posted

    HI rosemary34095,

    Both people gave you good advice but the only thing I was going to say is 3 liters seems like alot. Where does that put his blood oxygen level when he has it on? I'm assuming you have a pulse oximeter to measure that. If not, you really need one. If he could get the same good percentage at 2 liters, it might help his headaches too. Too much can cause headaches too. Just check on that....keep us posted! Ladyjack51

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  • Posted

    He did reduce his oxygen while sleeping and his headache was not as bad. thank you very much for your help
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    • Posted

      Great! I'm glad to know I didn't tell you something wrong. Get you a pulse oximeter so you can measure his blood oxygen levels ok? Thanks for letting us know....ladyjack51
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  • Posted

    He is going to his lung dr tomorrow so we will see what he has to say. Pray for helpful news. thank you for your responses and i will keep you posted.
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  • Posted

    Dear  rosemary

    You have had some good advice but may i also add to the topic of c02 that someone has touched on. A problem with some people with COPD is c02 retention. When we sleep our breathing is shallow and a build up of carbon dioxide can create dreadful headaches on waking which can continue through the day. This can also  make us feel very sleepy and confused if the c02 levels are high and is often dealt with by the use of a machine called a Nippy.. Please tell your son to mention these headaches to his respitory team as c02 retention needs to be diagnosed with a blood gas check.

    If he does have c02 retention this can be made worse by raising oxygen levels .

    I do hope he feels better soon

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