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Short burst oxygen therapy

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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Short burst oxygen therapy

  • refers to the intermittent use of supplemental oxygen at home usually for periods of about 10 to 20 minutes at a time to relieve dyspnoea
  • it is important to differentiate short burst therapy from the provision of continuous oxygen with exercise and termed ambulatory oxygen therapy
  • short burst oxygen therapy has traditionally been used for:
    • pre-oxygenation before exercise
    • breathlessness during recovery from exercise
    • control of breathlessness at rest
    • used in palliative care
    • used after an exacerbation of COPD to bridge the time to full LTOT assessment
  • short burst oxygen should be considered for episodic breathlessness, not relieved by other treatments in patients with the following conditions:
    • severe COPD
    • interstitial lung disease
    • heart failure
    • palliative care
  • short burst oxygen should only be prescribed if an improvement in breathlessness and/or exercise tolerance can be documented (1)
  • assessment for short burst oxygen therapy
    • no specific methodology has been developed for assessment of short burst therapy
    • other causes of breathlessness must be excluded and patients should be assessed for LTOT if appropriate


  1. British Thoracic Society (January 2006). Report on Clinical Component for the Home Oxygen Service in England and Wales.

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