Oxygen Therapy

Oxygen Therapy | Risks and Benefits | Guidelines

Oxygen therapy, also known as supplemental oxygen, uses oxygen to treat certain medical conditions. Oxygen is an essential element to sustain life. Some people do not get enough oxygen naturally. They require oxygen supplements to lead healthy lives. For them, oxygen therapy is a blessing. People who receive oxygen therapy often experience increased energy levels, better sleep, and quality of life. Oxygen therapy is a treatment that provides the extra oxygen you need. Oxygen is transferred directly to the airways with the help of nasal tongs, a mask, or a respiratory tract. For people with chronic respiratory diseases, a portable oxygen tank or machine may be required. Sometimes, specific lung diseases inhibit oxygen absorption.

When is oxygen therapy commonly used?

Oxygen therapy may be required for the following medical conditions :

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Asthma
  • Cardiac insufficiency
  • Pneumonia
  • sleep apnea
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Undeveloped lungs in newborns
  • Respiratory system trauma

Pulse oximeters are devices that are attached to a part of the body, such as the finger or earlobe, to determine blood oxygen levels in the body. A low level of oxygen indicates the need for oxygen therapy.

What are the benefits of oxygen therapy?

  • Oxygen therapy is beneficial for people with persistently low oxygen levels due to the underlying disease. Provides a more active lifestyle by reducing shortness of breath.
  • Oxygen therapy can save lives in an emergency and also increases life expectancy.
  • It is beneficial in symptoms such as headaches, irritability, confusion, fatigue, and swollen ankles. These symptoms can be caused by low levels of oxygen in the body.

Oxygen therapy is also useful for children with congenital chronic lung diseases, thus improving their quality of life.

What are the symptoms of low blood oxygen?

  • Cough or wheezing
  • Breathe fast
  • sweat
  • Change in skin color
  • Short breath
  • Increased heart rate

If anyone is experiencing these kinds of medical conditions then it is advisable to seek immediate medical treatment.

Medical professionals use pulse oximetry to determine whether a person is eligible for oxygen therapy. Some people are required to remain oxygen-rich at all times, while others require it in emergency situations, for example. asthma attack. People having continual requirements of Oxygen Therapy then this need can be fulfilled with a portable oxygen delivery system.

What are the risks of using oxygen therapy?

Oxygen therapy is usually safe, but it can cause side effects. They include a dry or bloody nose, fatigue, and morning headache.

Oxygen carries a risk of fire, so you should never smoke or use flammable substances while using oxygen. If you use an oxygen tank, make sure the tank is safe and straight. If it falls and breaks or the top breaks, the tank can fly like a missile.

What are the different types of oxygen therapy?

There are many different types of oxygen treatments that can be used. Such as :

  • Oxygen gas
  • Liquid oxygen
  • Oxygen concentration
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy

Oxygen gas

Due to advancements in science now oxygen gas can be stored in a portable tank. These are called compressed gas systems. A large stationary concentration is used indoors and a small oxygen tank can be used outside. Small tanks with oxygen preservation devices can be used to maintain oxygen supply for a long time. Oxygen is delivered to the pulses bit by bit, not continuously.

Liquid oxygen

Liquid oxygen can also be stored in a portable tank. Liquid oxygen is more concentrated, so more oxygen can fit into a smaller tank. It is useful for those who are very active, but it will evaporate if not used in time. These tanks are refillable.

Both liquid and gaseous oxygen are available for home delivery at many locations.

Oxygen concentrator

The oxygen concentrator device is less portable than other options. The oxygen concentrator is a device that extracts oxygen from the room, concentrates it for therapeutic use, and removes other natural gases. The advantage of concentrators is that they are less expensive and do not require tank-like filling. Portable versions are available. 

Oxygen from the tank is distributed through a tube. It enters the lungs through nasal tubes, a face mask, or a tube inserted directly into the person’s windpipe.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is not a usual oxygen therapy but it is a different type of oxygen therapy. It involves breathing oxygen in a pressurized chamber or tube. This allows the lungs to store three times more oxygen by breathing oxygen to normal atmospheric pressure. Excess oxygen passes through the blood to the organs and tissues of the body. HBOT is used to treat some serious wounds, burns, injuries, and infections. It also treats air or gas embolisms (air bubbles in the bloodstream), disintegration disease caused by divers, and carbon monoxide poisoning.

But some treatment centers say HBOT can treat almost anything, including HIV / AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, and cancer. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not issued or approved the use of HBOT for these conditions. There are risks in using HBOT, so always check with a healthcare provider before using this therapy.

What are the guidelines for the use of oxygen therapy?

The doctor will prescribe a prescription to begin oxygen therapy. They will tell,  how to use it and how often you should use it. This includes the flow rate or the amount of oxygen required per minute. It is necessary to follow all the specific instructions of the doctor. If you feel that oxygen therapy is not working for you, consult them before making any changes.

Some people only require oxygen during certain activities, such as exercising or sleeping. Others require constant oxygen. Nowadays portable oxygen tanks are available if anyone requires then it can be kept for shelf use. 

Do not use drugs or alcohol while on oxygen therapy, as they can slow your breath. When discussing oxygen therapy with the doctor, tell the doctor about any other prescription medications previously taken.


Some More Clinical Insight of Oxygen Therapy  :

Oxygen is a drug commonly used in clinical environments and, like other drugs, its use should be considered with caution. This is particularly true for patients at risk of type II respiratory failure, in whom the risk of hypertension is well established. In recent times, many international organizations have advocated oxygen therapy prescriptions in groups of vulnerable patients in an effort to reduce this risk. Despite this guidance, published data showed that there was a poor acceptance of these recommendations. Several interventions have been tested to improve compliance, and while some of these interventions are promising, the stability of these interventions is less assured. There is a clear need to examine doctors’ barriers, facilitators, and attitudes toward prescriptions for oxygen therapy in acute care. Interventions based on these findings need to be designed and tested to facilitate the application of evidence-based guidelines to support continuous change in design and behavior, and ultimately improve patient care.


References : 
  1. McDonald, V., Cousins, J., and Wark, P., 2016. Acute oxygen therapy: a review of prescribing and delivery practices. International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, [online] p.1067. 
  2. Oxygen Therapy | Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy | MedlinePlus. [online] Medlineplus.gov. 
  3. Knott, D., 2020. Use Of Oxygen Therapy In COPD. Advantages And Information. [online] Patient.info.

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