Tips for Increasing Nasal Cannula Comfort

self quarantine with COPDFor most oxygen therapy patients, learning how to use a nasal cannula as comfortably as possible is an important step in easily incorporating oxygen therapy into their lives. But for many people, figuring out how to wear the oxygen nose piece properly and learning what to do with all the tubing can be confusing. If you are unsure where to put the excess tubing and whether your nasal cannula prongs go up or down, let us walk you through how to wear your nasal cannula comfortably and find the right fit. 

Read on to learn how to choose the appropriate type of nasal cannula, how to put on a nasal cannula and how to ensure the oxygen nose piece fits properly. After that, you can read some of our tips to help ensure you have the most comfortable nasal cannula possible. 

Finding the Most Comfortable Nasal Cannula for You

Beginning oxygen therapy requires some adjustments, and one of those adjustments is learning how to properly wear a nasal cannula. A nasal cannula is how you will be receiving your oxygen during oxygen therapy. The nasal cannula is a flexible tube that is placed underneath the nose with two prongs that are placed inside the nostrils, through which the oxygen is delivered. Because the oxygen nose piece is less invasive than a face mask and allows the patient to talk and eat freely, nasal cannulas are the most common method for administering oxygen therapy.[1]

While finding the correct nasal cannula placement is one part of the equation, choosing the right size cannula is another essential part of ensuring that you have the most comfortable nasal cannula possible. Without the correct size and type of nasal cannula, you may experience more discomfort from the oxygen nose piece than you should. 

Since there are different sizes of nasal cannulas available, it is important to choose the correct size for your nostril size and shape. The oxygen nose piece should fit snugly into your nostrils without coming out, but it is important to make sure it does not go too far back into the nostril either. With proper nasal cannula placement, the oxygen nose piece should feel comfortable when placed all the way inside the nostrils, without any rubbing or pinching. Rubbing against your nostrils probably indicates that the oxygen nose piece is too large, while pinching indicates that it is the wrong size for your nose shape.[2] Once you have found the right oxygen nose piece for you, it is time to figure out your correct nasal cannula placement.

How to Put On a Nasal Cannula

To find the right nasal cannula placement, insert the prongs of your oxygen nose piece into your nostrils, then take the oxygen tubes on either side of your face and lift the tubes, placing them over your ears like you would glasses. Then, use the slider that holds the tubes where they come together under your chin to adjust the fit. The tubes of your nasal cannula should fit snugly over the tops of your ears and against your jaw and chin. You should have enough room to fit two fingers between the tubing and your chin for the most comfortable nasal cannula fit. If you are able to wear it comfortably after a couple uses, you are wearing it correctly![2] If you find that it is uncomfortable, however, here are a few tips.

Tips for the Most Comfortable Nasal Cannula

If you find that you are experiencing discomfort, irritation or slipping while wearing your nasal cannula, you may want to try some of the following tips. It may be that your nasal cannula placement is not quite right, or you may need to try a few modifications to find the most comfortable nasal cannula set-up for you. Here are some things you can try.[2]

  • Adjust the slider so your tubes are higher and tighter on your cheeks. This can help keep the tubing from moving around as much, thereby reducing excess friction. 
  • Use fabric medical tape to tape the tubes securely behind your ears to minimize movement and friction. 
  • Use fabric medical tape or oxygen tube covers to relieve any friction or irritation you experience between the tubes and your skin. 
  • Try switching to a softer or thinner tubing, which can relieve irritation and pressure on your face and ears. 
  • Try a different nasal cannula placement by turning your nasal cannula so that the tubes go down the back of your neck with the slider resting behind your head at the base of your neck. 

For the majority of nasal cannula users, these tips are sufficient. As you get used to the nasal cannula placement, you will be able to find your most comfortable nasal cannula positioning relatively quickly. Do be aware, however, that with weather changes and changes in the temperature or texture of your skin, you may need to make small adjustments. And, of course, new tubing will require adjustment as well.  

If, after trying each of the tips above, you still find that you are unable to find the most comfortable nasal cannula placement, you may need some additional solutions. Some people experience skin irritation and nasal dryness with nasal cannula use. Thankfully, most of these complications can be resolved easily with the following solutions. 

  • Humidified oxygen: Can help relieve dry nasal passages or minimize nose bleeds from oxygen use.[2]
  • Saline spray: An effective solution for dry nasal passages and nosebleeds resulting from oxygen use.[2]
  • Oxygen tube covers: Reusable covers that can comfortably protect your skin from irritation caused by friction from the tubing.[3]
  • Water-based lubricant: Helps relieve irritation and soreness from the oxygen nose piece rubbing the insides of the nostrils when applied in a thin layer on the ends of the prongs.[1]

are you getting enough oxygen

How to Make a Nasal Cannula More Comfortable at Night

Are you finding that your nasal cannula is slipping out at night or waking you up uncomfortable? If you want to know how to make a nasal cannula more comfortable while you are sleeping, the following tips might be helpful.

First, see if you can discover what is bothering you about your oxygen nose piece at night. It could be that your nasal cannula just doesn’t fit you correctly. As you move around in your sleep, your oxygen nose piece could be moving around in your nostrils more than it should, and that could explain why it falls out or feels uncomfortable while you sleep. A nasal cannula that is too large can cause irritation in your nostrils, and is less likely to stay in place correctly.[2]

Alternately, if you are waking up feeling like your septum is being pinched, it could be that your oxygen nose piece is too small.[2] If your nasal cannula seems to fit correctly, but you are still experiencing discomfort when you wake up in the morning, your oxygen nose piece tubing could be too stiff. Consider exploring a more flexible cannula, or a thinner oxygen nose piece, to see if that solves your problem. 

Proper Nasal Cannula Placement Allows for the Most Comfortable Nasal Cannula

Adjusting to life with oxygen therapy also means learning to adjust your nasal cannula correctly. However, learning how to put on a nasal cannula is relatively simple and will become second nature to you the more you practice it. Once you have learned how to adjust the fit of your oxygen nose piece and your tubing to create the proper nasal cannula placement for you, you can comfortably wear your nasal cannula at any time, day or night, to get your oxygen treatments when and where you need them.[2] It may take a little getting used to as you learn how to make your nasal cannula more comfortable for you, but as you become accustomed to wearing it, you will learn what works best for you. And, because a nasal cannula allows you to receive your oxygen therapy even while you eat or speak, your oxygen therapy should be minimally intrusive.

Contact us today to learn more about nasal cannulas and find out how you can experience oxygen therapy with the Inogen One portable oxygen concentrator.


  1. Heitz, David, “Nasal cannulas and face masks.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 8 July 2017,
  2. Dugdale, Jurdy. “How to Insert a Nasal Cannula.” WikiHow, WikiHow, 22 July 2020,
  3. “DermaSaver Oxygen Tube Covers.” Win Health Medical Ltd, Win Health Medical Ltd, Accessed 22 Nov. 2020

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