Most of us take natural breathing for granted. Yet more than 25 million people in the United States have asthma and 14.8 million adults have been diagnosed with COPD.1 These serious respiratory illnesses hinder the ability for individuals to breath normally. Many require the aid of oxygen therapy. So, what are the signs that a person needs oxygen?
What is Oxygen Therapy?
Oxygen therapy provides help with breathing using supplemental oxygen delivered through a breathing mask or nasal cannula. Doctors may recommend a specific amount of oxygen needed daily or allow individuals with respiratory illnesses to rely on supplemental oxygen as needed during episodes of labored breathing.
What are the Symptoms of Low Oxygen?
There are a number of symptoms of low oxygen. The most common include frequent shortness of breath, even without overexertion, rapid breathing, and an accelerated heart rate, as well as a persistent cough and sweating. At times, individuals in need of supplemental oxygen may experience confusion, as the lack of oxygen begins to impact cognitive abilities. If you experience any of these symptoms, then it may be time to talk to your doctor about oxygen therapy.
How is Oxygen Therapy Supplied?
Patients with respiratory illnesses who need to use oxygen therapy at home may choose between oxygen tanks or oxygen concentrators for their therapy. Supplemental oxygen in tanks is delivered in pulses not continuously and the tanks need to be replenished when the oxygen is used up.
Oxygen concentrators convert ambient air into pure oxygen, so the oxygen supply is never depleted, and new tanks are never required. Oxygen concentrators also allow oxygen to be delivered in pulse doses or in continuous doses, depending on the needs of the patient.
What Is Supplemental Oxygen?
Supplemental oxygen assists those with respiratory issues and illnesses to breathe and is prescribed by a doctor. Supplemental oxygen can come in either oxygen tanks or an oxygen concentrator. Oxygen tanks need to be replaced once the oxygen has run out. Oxygen concentrators are machines that draw ambient air through filters and covert that air into pure oxygen.
Patients with respiratory illnesses may rely on supplemental oxygen on a regular basis. In some instances, patients may use portable oxygen concentrators which provide the essential oxygen they need while allowing them the freedom to run errands or to travel without worry.
Why Do We Use Oxygen Therapy?
Oxygen therapy may be used short-term to treat a temporary lung illness or long-term to manage a chronic respiratory disease. Oxygen therapy is usually recommended for a range of respiratory conditions, depending on the severity including:
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- cystic fibrosis
Doctors will also test the amount of oxygen in the blood to determine if oxygen therapy is needed. Blood oxygen levels reveal how much oxygen is being absorbed into the body through the lungs. Insufficient blood oxygen results in noticeable and often debilitating symptoms including shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, coughing and lightheadedness.
Different Types Of Oxygen Therapy
There are different types of oxygen therapies which include liquid oxygen, oxygen gas, oxygen concentrators, and hyperbaric oxygen.
Liquid oxygen is stored in a portable container. This type of oxygen therapy is more concentrated and works best for people who are very mobile. If the oxygen is not used for several days, it will evaporate but you can refill it as needed.
Oxygen gas, also known as compressed gas, is mainly available in portable tanks. There are stationary concentrators that are used in homes and portable concentrators that are used while traveling. During this type of oxygen therapy, the oxygen does not flow continuously, rather you can set the pulse flow.
Oxygen concentrators are mainly used in the home but there are also some portable oxygen concentrators. These concentrators are used therapeutically and eliminate the other naturally occurring gases to help patients breath easily. These are less expensive and you cannot refill them like tanks.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
In hyperbaric oxygen therapy patients will have to breathe in pure oxygen which is in a pressurized chamber or room. During this therapy, the oxygen pressure increases up to 3 to 4 times more than standard air pressure. This therapy increases the amount of oxygen delivered to the tissues of the body.
Does Oxygen Therapy Help Shortness of Breath?
Shortness of breath is one of the most common symptoms of a compromised respiratory system. Oxygen therapy helps improve blood oxygen saturation and improve breathing. Patients who suffer from shortness of breath may find that oxygen therapy helps them feel better during the day, sleep better at night, and have more energy for personal activities.
Portable oxygen concentrators are also helpful for patients who experience episodes of shortness of breath. They may fear a respiratory attack away from home and away from their supplemental oxygen. But with portable oxygen concentrators they can take their oxygen therapy wherever they go to help restore healthy breathing without worry.
What are the Benefits of Oxygen Therapy?
Regular use of oxygen therapy can lead to overall improvements in your everyday life. For example, oxygen therapy helps alleviate the headaches, fatigue, and the irritability that comes with a diminished oxygen supply. Feelings of breathlessness and chronic restless sleep are also improved by oxygen therapy.
The Benefits of Oxygen Concentrators for Oxygen Therapy
One of the preferred methods of oxygen therapy is the use of oxygen concentrators. Safer, easier, and more compact than standard oxygen tanks, oxygen concentrators make life easier for therapy patients.
Oxygen tanks store compressed oxygen, which is highly flammable. Eventually, those tanks run out of oxygen and need to be replaced. On the other hand, oxygen concentrators filter the air around you to provide constant therapy. Without the risk of danger or the inconvenience of running out, this makes oxygen concentrators ideal.
Unlike bulky oxygen tanks, oxygen concentrators are compact and easy to move around. If you travel, portable concentrators are also available, so you can enjoy your freedom while keeping up with your oxygen therapy.
How Long Can You Live on Oxygen Therapy?
Oxygen therapy may be prescribed for many different reasons. It may be used for a short-term respiratory condition such as smoke inhalation. Oxygen therapy may also be used as needed for some patients, such as someone suffering an asthma attack.
For others with chronic respiratory illnesses, like COPD, or cystic fibrosis, oxygen therapy is essential for sustaining life. Many patients with serious illnesses may even sleep with oxygen therapy, requiring oxygen therapy to breath normally at all times. The severity of the respiratory illness can cut life short for many patients, but oxygen therapy can help. Often patients using long-term oxygen therapy add up to two years to their lives.
Why Choose The Oxygen Concentrator Supplies Shop?
The Oxygen Concentrator Supplies Shop offers a wide array of home oxygen concentrators and portable oxygen concentrators for every need. Our knowledgeable staff can help you in selecting the best oxygen concentrator based on your doctor’s prescription and your lifestyle.
- Respiratory Diseases. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. HealthyPeople.gov. Accessed January 2021.
- Jacobs SS, Lederer D, Garvey C, et al. Optimizing Home Oxygen Therapy. An Official American Thoracic Society Workshop Report. Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2018 Dec;15(12):1369-81.