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Oxygen Therapy: Here's What You Should Know About it

PUBLISHED: Dec-22-2019

Sometimes our body loses the ability to take in enough oxygen, and therefore leads to difficultly with breathing. If your healthcare provider feels that you're not getting sufficient enough oxygen, they might prescribe you something called oxygen therapy. It's common to find individuals suffering from lung diseases, or the elderly using this type of device. If your doctor feels that it's in your best interest, then it's a good idea to learn as much as you can about it. It's normal to have doubts about trying it, but know that it's perfectly safe to use and it's only for your benefit.

What is Oxygen Therapy?

When your healthcare provider feels that your oxygen levels are insufficient, then the next step might be for them to try you on oxygen supplementation. A healthy oxygen saturation level should be 95 or higher. If your level drops below this number, then it can eventually lead to dangerously low levels that could turn into hypoxia or hypoxemia. This is when you have a deficiency in the amount of oxygen that's being carried around to your extremities and tissue. If your tissue lacks the proper oxygen it needs, this could cause your organs to shut down and stop working properly. In order to help you prevent this from happening, your doctor will likely recommend one of the following treatment options for you.

There are several types of oxygen treatments you can try. The most common type of treatment include gas, liquid, and hyperbaric oxygen. If you're needing something that's portable, then you're going to need gas or liquid oxygen. Liquid and gas oxygen can both be stored in a portable tank that you can easily carry along with you wherever you go.


Some people aren't too fond of the idea of having to carry a tank around with them everywhere. But once you get used to it, you'll soon realize that it's not so bad. It becomes second nature, and it's lightweight which makes it easy for you to wheel around. Sometimes your doctor will have you keep your tube inserted in at all times, and will have the oxygen flow continuously. While other times they might want you to only use it on an as needed basis only.

The other type of oxygen therapy is hyperbaric, which works a bit differently than the liquid and gas oxygen. Instead of having a portable tank to walk around with, you will sit in a pressurized room. A pressurized room allows you to breathe in pure oxygen without being hooked up to a tank. So, although it's not portable, it will allow you to have a little more freedom. You'll be able to enjoy having your arms free while getting the oxygen you need. Depending on how often your doctor feels that you need the extra oxygen, will determine which type of treatment option they will choose for you.


If they feel you need to be on oxygen at all times, they will likely recommend you use an oxygen tank. If you only need the extra oxygen occasionally, then you might be able to get away with the hyperbaric treatment option instead.


How Does it Work?

You can either receive your oxygen through an oxygen tank, or a pressurized room filled with pure oxygen. Your doctor will probably discuss your options with you, and will recommend which one they feel would work best for your condition. Depending on how often you need to receive treatment, will tell you how often you need to supplement your oxygen intake. If you constantly have low oxygen saturation levels, then your doctor will likely suggest you wear it often, or at all times. You will probably need a continuous flow, to keep your oxygen levels up. If you only need oxygen on an as needed basis, then you can probably use the pulse mode or try sitting in a pressurized room.


Hypoxia vs. Hypoxemia

The main difference between the two are the problems that can arise from them. Hypoxia is when your tissue lacks the proper oxygen it needs to function normally. Due to the tissue receiving less oxygen, it can cause a number of problems. The most common problem associated with this condition is tissue damage, or organ failure. It can even lead to permanent brain damage. This condition is typically considered life threatening, which is why it's best to avoid your oxygen levels from dropping low in the first place.

Hypoxemia is a decrease in the amount of oxygen in the blood. It typically starts off with hypoxemia first, and as the condition worsens it eventually leads to hypoxia. Although this isn't always the case. Depending on how low your oxygen levels are, you might skip the hypoxemia stage altogether and go straight to hypoxia. You don't want to take chances when it comes to your health. Without healthy oxygen levels, your body will begin to shut down and your organs could start to fail. If it gets to the point of complete organ failure, you could require an organ transplant, or in worst case scenarios it could cause death.


Who Can Use it?

Anyone that is struggling to breathe and maintain a healthy oxygen saturation level can use oxygen therapy. It's for anyone suffering with chronic, or temporary breathing difficulties. Some of these chronic conditions include lung disease, heart disease, and illness. If you have asthma, or any other chronic lung disorder, then you can really benefit from using this machine. You can use it on a frequent basis, or as often as needed. It all depends on what you need, as well as what your healthcare provider recommends. Other medical conditions that might cause low oxygen levels include heart disease.

Sometimes after experiencing heart failure, your heart struggles to pump blood throughout your body as sufficiently as it should be. If your heart is not pumping as much blood to your tissue and organs, then it won't be able to deliver as much oxygen as it needs to function properly.


You can also use oxygen for temporary conditions as well, such a pneumonia. This causes your lungs to fill up with fluid, making it difficult for you to breathe. If you've come done with the flu, or a virus that has caused you to develop pneumonia, then your doctor will likely want you to use supplemental oxygen in the meantime until your condition improves. You can also safely use oxygen therapy at home.

Whether you suffer from chronic or temporary conditions that cause your oxygen saturation levels to be low, you can ensure that your receiving a healthy amount of oxygen at all times with this treatment. It's the only way you can prevent things like hypoxia or hypoxemia from developing.

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