Top 7 Benefits of Oxygen Therapy in COPD

Are you using oxygen therapy the way it’s prescribed? If you have COPD and the answer is no, you’re not alone. Studies suggest that, despite its many benefits, the average number of hours a patient uses supplemental oxygen is less than what’s prescribed by their doctor. Well-documented reasons for the under use of oxygen therapy include: [1]

  • physical difficulty of using it
  • self-consciousness and a sense of social stigma
  • fear of unwanted side effects
  • lack in understanding of benefit

The voluntary under use of oxygen limits its effectiveness.2 If any of the above-cited reasons sound familiar, maybe learning about the top 7 benefits of oxygen therapy for COPD will encourage you to follow your oxygen treatment plan more carefully.

  1. Prolongs Life

Perhaps the most important reason for using long term oxygen therapy (LTOT) is that, in COPD patients with severe resting hypoxemia (low blood oxygen levels), it prolongs life when used at least 15 hours a day.[2] In fact, average survival in COPD patients using LTOT at least 18 hours a day is two times longer than COPD patients who don’t use supplemental oxygen.2 If you’ve been prescribed supplemental oxygen, it’s important that you recognize when you’re not in compliance with your oxygen prescription and to discuss alternative oxygen delivery strategies with your health care provider.

  1. Decreases Breathlessness

Breathlessness is by far the most troubling symptom of COPD and contributes to everything from social isolation to lack of exercise. Supplemental oxygen has been found to reduce the level of breathlessness in patients with COPD and is associated with a reduced rate of breathing during exercise, as well.[3]

  1. Improves Quality of Life

Oxygen therapy enhances quality of life by improving mood and sleep, increasing mental alertness and stamina and allowing you to carry out normal daily activities. It’s also associated with the prevention of heart failure in people with severe lung disease.[4]

  1. Increases Exercise Capacity

People with COPD have poor exercise tolerance limiting their ability to perform physical activity. But exercise is one of the most important aspects of COPD treatment and has been linked to increased survival and improved quality of life in COPD. Using supplemental oxygen during exercise improves exercise endurance, heightens exercise performance and decreases the sensation of breathlessness during exercise allowing you to exercise longer at a higher intensity.[5]

  1. Improves Sexual Performance

Erectile impotence is frequently encountered by male patients with COPD and hypoxia (low oxygen levels). One study showed that 42% of patients experienced reversal of sexual impotence after receiving LTOT for at least one month.[6]

  1. Makes Air Travel Safer

It’s common for people with COPD to experience severe hypoxemia when they travel by airplane, even if they don’t normally use supplemental oxygen. In-flight oxygen therapy makes air travel safer by reducing the risk of severe hypoxemia. Talk to your health care provider for more information and to see if you qualify.

  1. Perks Up Your Social Life

Social isolation got you down? Maybe it’s time you made the switch from your standard home oxygen concentrator to an innovative portable solution. With a portable oxygen concentrator like the Inogen One G3 or the Inogen One G4, gone are the days of sitting at home alone in front of your television set. Extremely lightweight and compact, Inogen One improves your social life by granting you the freedom and independence to do what you want, when you want.

[1] Mark A Earnest, MD, PhD. “Explaining Adherence to Supplemental Oxygen Therapy: The Patient’s Perspective”. J Gen Intern Med. 2002 Oct; 17(10): 749–755.

[2] Thomas L. Croxton , William C. Bailey.Long-term Oxygen Treatment in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Recommendations for Future Research”. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine Vol 174. pp. 373-378, 2006.

[3] Christopher R. Swinburn, Hazel Mould, Timothy N. Stone, Paul A. Corris, and G. John Gibson “Symptomatic Benefit of Supplemental Oxygen in Hypoxemic Patients with Chronic Lung Disease”, American Review of Respiratory Disease, Vol. 143, No. 5_pt_1 (1991), pp. 913-915.

[4] American Lung Association. “Supplemental Oxygen”. Accessed August 16, 2015.

[5] Emtner, Margaret et. al. “Benefits of Supplemental Oxygen in Exercise Training in Nonhypoxemic Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patients”. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Vol. 168, No. 9 (2003), pp. 1034-1042.

[6] Aasebo, U., et. al. “Reversal of sexual impotence in male patients with COPD and hypoxemia with LTOT”. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1993 Dec;46(6):799-803.

By Deborah Leader RN, BSN, PHN

9 thoughts on “Top 7 Benefits of Oxygen Therapy in COPD”

  1. Avatar Partha Sarthy says:

    Great article! Thanks for sharing this information with us. It would really a helpful guide for the people who suffer to breath hard due to COPD.

  2. Avatar Pam Orchard says:

    Interesting Article why is it recommnded to have 15 hours of Ogygen when beginning on oxygen.

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Pam, The study we are referencing found that there is a relationship between survival and the average daily duration of oxygen use. This study researched patients on LTOT (Long Term Oxygen Therapy) so their recommendations are not for patients beginning on oxygen or patients that are on short term oxygen therapy. If you are on oxygen therapy, please consult your doctor about your oxygen needs. For more information on the study we are referencing in this article please visit:

  3. Avatar KAREN S PERCY says:

    I have been living with COPD since 2009 and was told I am gonna have to go on OXYGEN in the next few months. I do have MEDICARE and I would like to get the INOGEN UNIT .Can someone please help me out with this? Thank you …KAREN PERCY

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Karen, I have passed along your information to one of our Oxygen Specialists. If you do not receive a call in the next 24 hours, please call 1-800-374-9038.

  4. Avatar Barbara Smith says:

    Can you tell me if oxygen cost more or less than Advair, etc? I have been on Advair for a couple of years. I just came off of it to see if I could breathe better than before I was using the Advair.

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Barbara, Thank you for reaching out to us. Please call us at 1-800-374-9038 and we will be happy to provide you with a cost. There are many options available and we can present all options to you. We look forward to hearing from you.

  5. Avatar Patricia Butts says:

    Do you still need the big tanks for night when you have the travel concentrators? And do the concentrators need to be replenished? I ask only because I realized that oxygen falls under “prescriptions” and will jump my yearly insurance rate and will skyrocket.

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Patricia,
      Thanks for reaching out. Our portable oxygen concentrators can be used overnight 24/7, but it depends on your condition.
      Your doctor will have to be the one to make that decision with you. I don't completely understand your question about the concentrators needing to be replenished. They do require new columns and the filters to be cleaned if that is what you are asking. Any other questions, please call us at 855-434-0079 and we can help. Thank you!

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