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Commonly Used Oxygen Definitions

PUBLISHED: Dec-05-2019

When you're learning about oxygen, you'll hear a lot of different terms being used that might confuse you. If you or a loved one are seeking oxygen treatment, then it's important for you to know and understand what all of the commonly used oxygen definitions mean. Below you'll find the most widely used terms, and what it is. This guide will give you an easy-to-understand explanation of each definition, so that you'll be able to check back whenever you need to.

When you're seeking treatment for oxygen deficiency, this is called oxygen therapy. Every definition on here revolves around this word. You'll understand it much better after reading through all of the definitions. Here are the most commonly used words:

  • oxygen therapy
    supplemental oxygen
    oxygen saturation
    on-demand flow
    continuous flow
    hyperbaric oxygen therapy

Oxygen therapy is the center of it all. This is the machine you'll use to receive oxygen. Your doctor will typically recommend oxygen therapy if you suffer from a chronic condition, or a temporary one that requires treatment. If you have low oxygen saturation levels that drops below 95 percent, then you'll likely need supplemental oxygen. Anytime your oxygen levels are low, you're at an increased risk for developing a life threatening condition known as hypoxia. Your tissue and organs need oxygen to thrive, and without it they will begin to fail. That's why it's so important to seek immediate treatment when necessary. Not only can oxygen therapy improve your quality of life, but it can also save your life as well.


This leads us to supplemental oxygen, which goes hand-in-hand with oxygen therapy. If you need supplemental oxygen, this just simply means that you require oxygen therapy. This can come in the form of a portable tank, or you can also receive supplemental oxygen in the form of hyperbaric oxygen, which is when you sit in a pressurized room. The reason it's called supplemental is because that's exactly what it's doing. It's supplementing your body with what it needs, and that's oxygen.


You might get oxygen saturation confused with supplemental oxygen, but they mean two completely different things. Supplemental oxygen is just as it sounds. It supplements your breathing, increasing your oxygen saturation levels. While oxygen saturation is when you figure out the levels of oxygen that's actually in your blood. Before deciding whether or not you need oxygen therapy, the first thing your doctor will do is check your oxygen saturation levels. They won't know if your levels are low until they've tested you for it. The tests involved are typically noninvasive, quick and painless.


After you've decided, or your doctor has decided to use oxygen therapy, you will be given an on-demand, or continuous flow of oxygen. It all depends on your needs on how often you need the supplemental oxygen. If you have a chronic condition that causes you to always have low oxygen saturation levels, then you'll likely need to use a continuous flow. This will keep the air flowing at a steady pace. It keeps going at all times. On the other hand, if you're experiencing low oxygen levels infrequently, then your doctor might recommend you only use it on-demand. This means that instead of the air coming out continuously, it will come out only when you take a breathe in.


All of these oxygen definitions connect with one another, which leads us to hyperbaric oxygen therapy. The difference here between oxygen therapy and hyperbaric therapy, is the way the oxygen is delivered. With oxygen therapy, you'll receive your oxygen through a portable tank. Hyperbaric therapy involves sitting in a pressurized room filled with pure oxygen, that allows you to fulfill your oxygen requirements without being hooked up to a machine. It's called a pressurized room, because that's exactly what it does. It increases the pressure in the air, making it possible for you to breathe in more oxygen.


Many people prefer this option as it gives you a more natural way of receiving oxygen. You can also breathe the pure oxygen in through a tube as well. This gives you the option of choosing which way you prefer to receive hyperbaric therapy. Hopefully this has given you a better understanding of how it all works.


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