Your doctor may prescribe oxygen therapy if you have a condition that affects your body’s ability toget enough oxygen from the air to function properly. Here’s what you should know about oxygen therapy for yourself or a loved one.
When is oxygen therapy used?
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), your lungs normally gather enoughoxygen for your body’s needs from the air you breathe. The oxygen enters your bloodstream through tiny blood vessels (capillaries) that cover your lung’s air sacs (alveoli), and it’s carried to the heart to be pumped to organs throughout your body. If structures in your lungs are damaged or compromised from illness or disease, your lungs may not be able to absorb enough oxygen from the air. Oxygen therapy delivers oxygen to the lungs to help your body get the right amount it needs.
According to the NHLBI, doctors use oxygen therapy to treat the following conditions:
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Your doctor may order tests such as an arterial blood gas test or a pulse oximetry test to measure the amount of oxygen in your blood to determine whether oxygen therapy is right for you. In most cases,people on oxygen therapy may feel less fatigue and shortness of breath; it can also increase the lifespan of some people with COPD, according to the NHLBI.
How is oxygen therapy administered?
According to the NHLBI, the oxygen itself is in a container. It’s administered to you via a tube in different ways, depending on your condition, and where you receive your oxygen therapy. You may get oxygen delivered to your lungs through a mask placed over your nose and mouth, through a pronged tube placed in your nostrils (nasal cannula), or through a small breathing tube inserted into your windpipe through the front of your neck (trans tracheal oxygen therapy). If you have a chronic condition andneed oxygen therapy at home, you may use refillable oxygen tanks or a machine called an oxygen concentrator.
People who need continuous oxygen therapy may have many lightweight options for portable oxygen so they can continue their normal daily activities such as shopping and visiting friends outside the home.