When you first learn that you require oxygen therapy and will be living on oxygen for life, you may feel overwhelmed about how it will impact your day-to-day life. There will be some adjustments, and those adjustments will vary depending on what kind of oxygen delivery system you use, how frequently you need oxygen treatments and your general health when you start oxygen therapy. The good news is, for many people, oxygen therapy improves their quality of life in a number of different ways. What are the uses of oxygen in our daily life? Let’s explore how oxygen therapy may impact your life and what factors can affect your overall quality of life on oxygen therapy.
Oxygen and Life: Why You Might Need Oxygen Therapy
Oxygen and life are forever connected, as oxygen is required to support life on this planet. Oxygen is also essential to every cell in the human body, and our body’s uses of oxygen in daily life are vital to our health. As such, if you have low oxygen, oxygen therapy may be prescribed.
Generally speaking, oxygen therapy helps improve the absorption of oxygen into the body and the bloodstream. People who struggle with getting adequate amounts of oxygen or who do not absorb oxygen as efficiently are often prescribed oxygen therapy to help improve blood oxygen levels, shortness of breath and more. People with chronic lung diseases like COPD, pulmonary fibrosis or cystic fibrosis may need oxygen therapy to help them improve their oxygen levels and improve oxygen absorption, and may be living on oxygen for life. People with breathing difficulties or illnesses like asthma, pneumonia, sleep apnea, heart disease or other respiratory trauma often need oxygen therapy to ensure that enough oxygen is entering their lungs to provide the oxygen their bodies need. Oxygen therapy may be prescribed as a temporary treatment for a drop in oxygen levels or short-term breathing difficulty, while some people will require oxygen therapy as an ongoing treatment for breathlessness or low blood oxygen. Your doctor will determine whether you need oxygen therapy, as well as how long you will need it and the frequency in which you will require oxygen treatments. Whether you need oxygen for a brief period, or will be living on oxygen for life, it is helpful to understand the uses of oxygen in daily life.
In order to qualify for oxygen therapy, your doctor will see if you meet a number of necessary criteria. While shortness of breath is a common factor, your doctor will also check for other symptoms, including rapid breathing or heart rate, coughing, wheezing, excessive sweating, confusion or changes in behavior, mood or skin color. If you have experienced more than one of these symptoms, it is likely that your oxygen levels are too low and you may qualify for oxygen therapy. To confirm your blood oxygen level, your doctor will administer a number of tests, including an arterial blood gas study (ABG) or a pulse oximetry test. If your ABG study shows that your blood oxygen level is 55 mg Hg or lower, or if your pulse ox shows that your oxygen saturation level is 88% or lower, you will likely need oxygen therapy of some kind. People living with chronic lung disease often maintain lower oxygen saturation levels even when they are doing well, however, so doctors will take all factors into account before making a decision about whether oxygen therapy is right for you.
The Importance of Respiratory Health
For most of us, feeling healthy and able to breathe easily is essential to feeling good and maintaining our quality of life. If you are struggling with your respiratory health, it affects how you feel each minute of the day, which can wear you down over time. As such, taking care of your respiratory health is absolutely essential for your overall health. Every cell in your body requires oxygen to function properly, and if your respiratory system does not work properly, your cells, vital organs and body will not receive the oxygen they need to work correctly and stay healthy.
In order to maintain your respiratory health, it is important to talk to your doctor about how to treat your particular breathing difficulty. In addition to beginning oxygen therapy treatments to help you get the oxygen you need, you may also need to learn how to do certain breathing exercises or coughing techniques, begin pulmonary rehabilitation, change your diet, begin certain endurance exercises or reduce your exposure to lung irritants like smoke and pollution. It is also helpful to do what you can to prevent respiratory infections by making sure that you get your vaccinations, washing your hands regularly and avoiding anyone who is sick. No matter what your doctor recommends for you and your respiratory health, the combination of these strategies plus oxygen therapy as prescribed can help improve your oxygen absorption, helping you feel better overall and improving your quality of life. So, what are the uses of oxygen in our daily life, and how does oxygen therapy impact them?
Ways in Which Oxygen Therapy Impacts Quality of Life
Oxygen and life are inextricably linked, and while the uses of oxygen in daily life might differ from person to person, oxygen therapy can be life changing for many people. For many people with lung disease, respiratory illnesses and other breathing difficulties, oxygen therapy is a vital part of maintaining their respiratory health and, with it, their quality of life. If your doctor prescribes oxygen therapy for you, there are bound to be ways in which that oxygen therapy will change your quality of life. While some perceive the changes to be negative, others perceive the changes as being quite positive. Living on oxygen for life can be a big change, but those changes can be positive or negative, depending on a number of different factors.
In order to find out more about how people feel about the changes in their quality of life after beginning oxygen therapy, we conducted a survey with 326 oxygen therapy users. We were interested in learning about which factors influence the perceived changes in quality of life, as well as how survey participants’ lives have changed after beginning oxygen therapy. We also wondered how the uses of oxygen in daily life impacted the participants’ feelings about their oxygen therapy.
We began by getting basic information about the survey participants. We started by asking the age at which survey participants began oxygen therapy. Though the range was between 18 and 85+, the majority of those surveyed began oxygen treatments between the ages of 25 and 64. When we asked how long participants had been using oxygen therapy, the majority of those surveyed (53%) had been using oxygen therapy between one and four years. Twenty-six percent of respondents had been using oxygen therapy for less than a year, and almost 21% had been using it for over five years.
To thoroughly understand how oxygen therapy impacts quality of life, we asked about the main oxygen delivery system used by survey participants. Forty-seven point two percent of those surveyed mainly used home oxygen concentrators, 24.8% mainly used a portable oxygen concentrator, 14.7% mainly used compressed oxygen tanks and cylinders and 13.2% mainly used a liquid oxygen system.
Survey participants were also asked how much they feel oxygen therapy has impacted their quality of life. The majority of those surveyed (52.5%) said oxygen therapy greatly impacted their quality of life and 36.8% said it somewhat impacted their lives. Only 10.7% said their lives were not impacted, indicating that oxygen therapy does indeed have a significant effect on patients’ quality of life.
When participants were asked how much oxygen therapy has affected their day-to-day life and activities, 76.4% of those surveyed said oxygen therapy has somewhat or greatly affected their daily lives. Of those surveyed, over 45% of participants were able to leave the house between four to seven days a week, while 26.7% could only leave the house one to two days a week. Unfortunately, 6.7% of participants were unable to leave the house at all. For some, oxygen therapy may have improved their ability to go out, while for others using heavy oxygen tanks or cylinders, or even exclusively using home oxygen concentrators, leaving the house may have become more difficult. According to the survey results, the type of oxygen delivery system being used makes a significant difference in how a person’s quality of life is affected.
Regardless of the type of oxygen used, it is clear that oxygen therapy makes a difference in how patients perceive their quality of life.
How Oxygen Therapy Changed Survey Participants’ Lives
What are the uses of oxygen in our daily life? For anyone who struggles with shortness of breath, frequent respiratory infections, chronic coughing or wheezing, the combination of these symptoms plus low oxygen saturation results in a lack of energy and a general feeling of weakness. It is difficult to participate in your life when you cannot breathe properly. In fact, when we conducted our survey with people who used oxygen therapy, participants told us that these symptoms kept them from participating in their favorite activities. Over 41% were unable to participate in their favorite activities because of shortness of breath, while almost 36% said that wheezing, chronic cough and frequent respiratory infections held them back.
When your symptoms get in the way of your life, your quality of life is significantly impaired. Thankfully, oxygen therapy can help. When we asked survey participants if oxygen therapy allowed them to resume their normal activities, 63.8% of those surveyed said yes. When asked how active survey participants are now that they are on oxygen therapy, the majority of respondents rated themselves above average. This makes sense as oxygen therapy actually improves most people’s ability to stay active because they are no longer struggling to get the oxygen they need. Moreover, 40.5% of oxygen therapy users surveyed said that they are able to leave the house between four to ten hours at a time, while 17.5% of those surveyed said that leaving the house is not an issue for them. That means that for 58% of the survey participants, oxygen therapy offered some improvement in freedom and mobility, which translates to improved quality of life.
Additionally, we asked survey participants when they were last able to take a trip of five days or more. More than half of the participants (62.3%) said that it had been anywhere between over a year to over five years. For most oxygen therapy users, the desire to maintain a normal life and normal activities, including vacations, is essential to how they perceive their quality of life, particularly when living on oxygen for life. Being unable to take a trip has an effect on how people perceive their lives.
We asked survey participants what aspect of their lives oxygen therapy could most improve. Forty-one point one percent of those surveyed said more mobility, 33.1% said more independence and 25.8% said more freedom.
So, how can oxygen therapy users experience improved freedom, independence and mobility while still getting the oxygen they need? The answer is simple: A portable oxygen concentrator gives oxygen therapy patients the ability to get their oxygen anytime, anywhere, as long as they have power.
How a Portable Oxygen Concentrator Helps Improve Patients’ Quality of Life
A portable oxygen concentrator (POC) allows oxygen therapy users to get their oxygen treatments at home, on the go or even while on a trip. Portable oxygen concentrators offer significantly improved freedom, mobility and independence, which translates to improved quality of life for those on oxygen therapy. In fact, we asked survey participants to describe life on oxygen therapy with one word, and the difference between those using an oxygen tank delivery system compared to those using a portable oxygen concentrator delivery system was clear. Though users of both systems used positive words like “good,” “great,” “better” and “life,” as well as negative words like “heavy,” “embarrassing” and “difficult,” there were significantly more positive words used by portable oxygen concentrator users when compared to oxygen tank users. A significant number of oxygen tank users offered negative words like “hard,” “limited,” “restricted” and “cumbersome.” In contrast, many portable oxygen concentrator users provided positive words like “freedom,” “better,” “mobile,” “easier,” “nice,” “awesome,” “simple” and “portable.” While it is clear that users of both delivery systems can have positive experiences and perceive improvements to their quality of life, the experience for portable oxygen concentrator users seems to be significantly more positive.
Most of the negative words offered by oxygen tank users referred to the difficulty of using oxygen tanks, as well as the restrictiveness resulting from the size and weight of the tanks themselves. The fact is, hauling a large oxygen tank around is not easy, and for many oxygen therapy users, it makes getting around that much harder, thereby impeding quality of life. However, for portable oxygen concentrator users, the experience is often significantly more positive. POC users are able to come and go as they please, without worrying about running out of oxygen or refilling a tank. As long as a portable oxygen concentrator has a charged battery and access to an AC or DC power source, patients have an endless supply of oxygen.
There are a number of benefits to using a portable oxygen concentrator over a tank, because of the ease of use. Not only are POCs smaller and easier to carry than even a portable oxygen tank, they also offer the peace of mind that comes with knowing you will not run out of oxygen. Since an oxygen tank can only hold a finite amount of oxygen, oxygen tank users need to know exactly how much oxygen is in their tank and how long it will last them. After that, the tank either needs to be refilled or replaced, which is one more thing for the patient to manage. Oxygen concentrators, on the other hand, pull from the surrounding air and purify it by removing nitrogen and other agents to provide concentrated medical-grade oxygen. As long as the portable oxygen concentrator has power, it can continue to provide an endless supply of oxygen to the user. Because portable oxygen concentrator users have less to manage and worry about, along with the ease of being able to grab their POC and go, the quality of life for people using a portable oxygen concentrator for their oxygen therapy is significantly improved.
For patients who must use an oxygen tank or a larger stationary oxygen concentrator because they require high-flow continuous oxygen, the Inogen Tidal Assist Ventilator (TAV®) may be the solution. The Inogen TAV is a small advanced respiratory assist device that gives users the ability to easily control the level of respiratory assist they need. Patients who still find themselves breathless after climbing stairs or taking part in a long conversation, even while on oxygen therapy, often feel frustrated that they are still experiencing breathlessness with their treatment. With the Inogen TAV, patients can get an extra boost of oxygen right when they need it to improve exercise endurance and reduce feelings of exertion and breathlessness. The Inogen TAV can even improve oxygen saturation in many patients. For those who have negative experiences with oxygen tanks, but must use them or certain stationary oxygen concentrators, the Inogen TAV could be the solution patients need to improve their oxygen therapy experience and uses of oxygen in daily life.
Inogen’s Goal Is to Improve Quality of Life for Oxygen Therapy Users
Oxygen therapy will change your life—there is no doubt about that. However, whether the change is positive or negative often depends on the oxygen delivery system you use. For patients using portable oxygen concentrators, the experience of incorporating oxygen therapy into their lives is significantly more positive. There will be adjustments as you learn to use your portable oxygen concentrator and account for keeping it properly charged, but the benefits of better breathing and improved freedom, mobility and independence truly make those adjustments worthwhile.
At Inogen, we believe that oxygen therapy should help improve your quality of life, and our portable oxygen concentrators make those improvements possible. Our innovative, portable, easy-to-use POCs are truly life changing for our patients. We founded our company to help ensure that our oxygen concentrators could keep up with the active lives our patients wanted to live. We are proud to say that we have been able to help improve patients’ quality of life again and again by allowing them to get the oxygen they need anytime, anywhere. Each of our portable oxygen concentrators offers different benefits to help meet your needs and your life. Find out more about how our portable oxygen concentrators can help improve your quality of life by giving you the freedom of oxygen therapy, even while you live an active and full life. Contact us today for more information and start enjoying your life with oxygen therapy.
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