Has your doctor recently prescribed oxygen therapy as part of your COPD treatment plan? If so, you may be wondering why you need it, and more importantly, how you should use it.
The following will provide you with detailed information about the benefits of supplemental oxygen as well as some important oxygen safety tips.
Why Do I Need Supplemental Oxygen?
Oxygen is a basic human need. Without it, we would not survive. The air that we breathe contains approximately 21% oxygen. For most people with healthy lungs, this is sufficient, but for some people with certain health conditions whose lung function is impaired, the amount of oxygen that is obtained through normal breathing is not enough. Therefore, they require supplemental amounts to maintain normal body function.
How Do I Know if I Need Supplemental Oxygen?
Your health care provider can measure the oxygen levels in your blood by obtaining an arterial blood gas (ABG) or by using a noninvasive device called a "pulse oximeter." According to the American Thoracic Society, the general goal of treatment is to keep your oxygen levels usually at, or above, 88%.
How Much Oxygen Should I Use?
Oxygen is a medical treatment and requires a prescription from a healthcare provider to use it. Your doctor may prescribe a range of oxygen flow rates for different activities, such as during rest, sleep or exercise. It is very important that you follow the settings exactly as prescribed, as using too much or too little can have serious consequences.
How Many Hours a Day Will I Need Oxygen?
Some patients will only require oxygen therapy during sleep, while others may require it 24 hours a day. The amount and duration of oxygen therapy that you use will depend upon the recommendation of your healthcare provider.
In addition to helping prevent heart failure in people with severe lung diseases, such as COPD, supplemental oxygen has many benefits. For example, some studies have shown an increase in survival rates in patients who use oxygen more than 15 hours a day. Moreover, according to the American Lung Association, supplemental oxygen improves sleep, mood, mental alertness and stamina and allows individuals to carry out normal, everyday functions. Find out more about the many benefits of oxygen therapy.
Although oxygen is a safe, nonflammable gas, it supports combustion, meaning materials burn more readily in its presence. It is very important to follow general oxygen safety guidelines if you are planning to use, or be around, supplemental oxygen.
Check out the following for the most up-to-date, oxygen safety tips:
Additionally, be better prepared in the event of an emergency by checking out these oxygen emergency tips.
Tired of being tied down to a home oxygen concentrator? Compare prices of portable oxygen concentrators.
American Lung Association Oxygen Therapy Fact Sheet. 2013.