COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a respiratory illness that causes inflammation of the lungs which can obstruct airflow. It is a progressive, long-term disease, and according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, it affects 16 million Americans.1 Oxygen therapy is a common treatment for respiratory illness as it increases the amount of oxygen in the lungs and bloodstream. Let’s take a look at how oxygen therapy may benefit COPD.
How Does Oxygen Therapy Help COPD?
Airflow in COPD patients can become limited due to increased mucus production and inflamed airways. Because COPD reduces oxygen levels, you may feel tired and short of breath. Long-term oxygen therapy helps minimize the debilitating symptoms of COPD including fatigue, wheezing, coughing and difficulty breathing. Oxygen therapy may also help patients avoid severe health consequences of the disease, including the risk of heart failure.
Although there are some common myths that deter patients from seeking oxygen therapy, this supplemental treatment is most often beneficial. However, it’s best to discuss the potential for oxygen therapy as a treatment for COPD with your doctor.
How Does Oxygen Therapy Work?
When patients have been prescribed oxygen therapy doctors and nurses often recommend supplemental oxygen. There are many ways that supplemental oxygen can be given:
Nasal Cannulas – a plastic tube connects the oxygen to two small cannulas that fit into the nostrils.
Face Masks – these cover both the nose and mouth and are often used by those who have more difficulty in breathing oxygen and need much more oxygen.
Transtracheal Therapy or Surgery – in this therapy a small hole is created in the windpipe. Through that hole a tube is attached and connected with the oxygen concentrator to improve the flow of the oxygen directly to the lungs.
Oxygen Concentrators – these are small oxygen generation machines which are portable and powered by batteries, or connect into an outlet for home oxygen concentrator.
When Should Oxygen Therapy be Used for COPD?
Oxygen therapy should only be used for treating COPD after receiving a prescription from your doctor. The prescribed amount of oxygen varies depending on the patient. Too much oxygen in the blood stream can lead to oxygen toxicity.2
Many COPD patients still lead active lifestyles. If physical exertion causes oxygen levels to drop too low, however, they may require oxygen therapy while working out. Similarly, sleeping naturally causes breathing to slow. Patients with more severe cases of COPD may need oxygen therapy while sleeping. For these circumstances, we recommend keeping a home oxygen concentrator by the bedside.
Air travel may exacerbate COPD symptoms due to the rapid shift in elevation while flying. If you have COPD and plan to travel you should learn more about our FAA-approved portable oxygen concentrators.
Do I Need Oxygen Therapy for my COPD?
Feelings of breathlessness do not indicate that a patient is not getting enough oxygen. Therefore, not all COPD patients are prescribed oxygen therapy. Blood tests such as pulse oximetry tests can determine if oxygen levels are too low and if therapy is required.
How Do I Get Oxygen Therapy?
You must receive a prescription from a physician to receive oxygen therapy. Two of the most common ways oxygen therapy is provided is through oxygen tanks or oxygen concentrators. Many COPD patients prefer oxygen concentrators for their portability, safety and convenience.
Benefits of Oxygen Concentrators for COPD
Oxygen concentrators are safer than oxygen tanks. Oxygen tanks store compressed air that can leak. Compressed air is highly flammable, so a leak increases the risk of fire, but you never have to face these safety hazards with an oxygen concentrator.
Oxygen concentrators provide consistent oxygen supply. Oxygen tanks only provide a limited amount of oxygen before needing replacement. On the other hand, oxygen concentrators never run out as they are continuously filtering air from the environment to provide therapy.
Oxygen concentrators are compact and portable. Oxygen concentrators come in two options – home concentrators and portable concentrators. Most oxygen concentrators are much smaller than oxygen tanks, and the portable options are convenient for travel.
Some Complications of Oxygen Therapy
Follow this criteria when using oxygen therapy:
- Stay at least 5 feet away from any open flame.
- Try not to be near someone smoking and do not smoke during therapy.
- Try not to use the oxygen concentrator in an enclosed space.
Choosing an Oxygen Concentrator for COPD
Have you been diagnosed with COPD and prescribed oxygen therapy? Our experts can provide you with consultation on the safe, practical benefits of oxygen concentrators. Reach our knowledgeable customer service team by phone at 888-941-1688 or via email at email@example.com. We can answer all your questions or help you pick out an oxygen concentrator that best fits your needs.