Oxygen Therapy for COPD & Lung Disease

For some people, using an oxygen breathing machine at home is the best way to effectively treat the effects of lung disease or COPD, allowing them to breathe better. For people requiring a respiratory oxygen machine, your doctor will prescribe oxygen therapy for COPD. Your health care providers will decide how frequently breathing machines for COPD should be used for your oxygen therapy for lung disease, how much oxygen should be consumed (liters per minute) and when you should use your breathing machine for your lungs every day. A simple blood test will confirm the right prescription for your oxygen therapy for COPD. Some people will need oxygen therapy for COPD side effects only when doing something strenuous, such as during exercise or extended periods of walking. Others may only need oxygen therapy for COPD at night. Many oxygen patients, however, need oxygen continuously—day, night and when traveling—and will need to find a versatile solution to provide portable oxygen for COPD and fit these rigorous needs. 

Thankfully, the benefits of oxygen therapy in COPD can be well worth it. Below are the different solutions available for oxygen therapy delivery, as well as the advantages and challenges of oxygen for breathing problems with each system. Your doctor will provide oxygen therapy for COPD guidelines for you to help you enjoy the full benefits of oxygen therapy in COPD. Discover how being a COPD patient and oxygen therapy patient can work for your life.

Oxygen Therapy for COPD: Three Types of Oxygen Delivery Systems

Compressed Gas

oxygen therapy for copd with tanksCompressed gas oxygen therapy for COPD is the best known method of providing oxygen therapy, and has been around the longest. Compressed gas oxygen is available for home use with larger oxygen tanks or for portable use with small oxygen tanks for breathing. If you use this delivery system for your oxygen therapy for COPD, various sizes of oxygen tanks must be regularly delivered to your home. Each tank has a regulator to control the rate of oxygen flow. You connect to these tanks via your nasal cannula (a breathing device that hooks over your ears and extends into your nose) and oxygen is delivered to your lungs each time you take a breath. There are smaller portable oxygen tanks made for mobile use, but regardless of the size of your tank, each tank contains a finite amount of oxygen. One drawback to this approach is that you must always have enough tanks on hand so you do not run out of oxygen, which means managing frequent visits from your oxygen provider and finding a place to store larger tanks for home use and portable oxygen tanks for breathing while you are out. If you are a COPD patient and oxygen therapy has been prescribed for you, compressed gas is likely what you have pictured using. However, it may not be your ideal solution for portable oxygen for COPD.

Liquid Oxygen

This delivery method for oxygen therapy for lung disease stores very cold liquid oxygen in a thermos-type of container, where it maintains a temperature of almost -297ºF. You transfer the liquid oxygen to a smaller delivery device to use around the house and for portable oxygen for COPD while traveling. When the liquid is released from the container, it changes back to a gas as it warms up so that you are able to breathe it.

There are some drawbacks with using liquid oxygen for your oxygen therapy for COPD. While the liquid oxygen delivery system is smaller than the traditional compressed canister system, liquid oxygen is also more expensive, which can be a hardship for patients requiring long-term oxygen therapy for lung disease. Additionally, you must be very careful using this equipment, and particularly when transferring the liquid oxygen from the large tank to the small oxygen tank for breathing to avoid injury from the dangerously cold liquid oxygen. Because of the cost and the care that must be taken when using liquid oxygen for oxygen therapy for COPD, it is not always the ideal choice for both the COPD patient and oxygen therapy.

Oxygen Concentrators

oxygen therapy for copdOxygen concentrators are newer, more portable electric oxygen breathing machine devices that work by separating the oxygen out of the surrounding air, purifying it and storing it for you to breathe. Oxygen concentrators are ideal for oxygen therapy for lung disease because they can provide an endless oxygen supply, as long as they have power. One of the benefits of oxygen therapy in COPD with this kind of respiratory oxygen machine is that you do not have to worry about canisters or refills. Moreover, many oxygen concentrators are quite small and allow the user much greater independence than other methods of oxygen therapy for COPD. Some portable oxygen concentrators are even permitted on commercial airlines. Another advantage of using an oxygen concentrator for oxygen therapy for COPD side effects is that you do not have to worry about managing frequent deliveries from your home oxygen supplier as much as with the other methods. If you opt for this method, the concentrator will be dropped off at your home, you’ll be instructed how to use it and then you can carry on without lots of service visits or intrusions into your home. The benefits of oxygen therapy in COPD are numerous, but an oxygen concentrator really improves your experience with oxygen therapy for lung disease.

Single Solution Oxygen Concentrators

This is a newer technology, in which a portable oxygen concentrator is capable of satisfying all of your oxygen therapy for COPD needs, including stationary, portable and travel use. These innovative oxygen machines are made for the kind of patient who is looking to achieve independence from their condition with portable oxygen for COPD. Note that some portable concentrators are not single solutions because they are not appropriate for stationary, ambulatory and travel use. The Inogen One System was the first single solution portable oxygen concentrator and IS appropriate for stationary, ambulatory and travel use for your oxygen therapy for lung disease.

Read on to learn more about Inogen One portable oxygen concentrators and how they can help with your oxygen therapy for COPD.

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The Inogen One System Is Ideal for Oxygen Therapy for COPD

The benefits of oxygen therapy in COPD are greatly increased when you can get your oxygen anytime, anywhere with portable oxygen for COPD. Each portable oxygen concentrator model in the Inogen One System is designed to be used at home or on the go, to improve your independence, freedom and mobility as a COPD patient and oxygen therapy user. Inogen believes that oxygen therapy for lung disease should help improve your quality of life, so if you are a COPD patient and oxygen therapy is in your future, talk to your doctor about whether a portable oxygen concentrator from Inogen is right for your needs. 

Oxygen Therapy for COPD Guidelines: Safety and Oxygen Therapy

Oxygen supports combustion and an oxygen-rich environment can increase the risk of a fire. You should never, ever smoke while using oxygen. Do not let anyone else smoke anywhere near you. Avoid any sort of open flames, such as candles, gas burners on a stove or fireplaces while using oxygen. If you go to a restaurant with portable oxygen for COPD, make sure you stay in the non-smoking section. It is also important to avoid petroleum-based and other flammable products while receiving oxygen therapy for COPD.

Since compressed oxygen canisters are so large and heavy, make sure that if you use one, it is stable and will not fall over. Most oxygen providers will give you a stand that can hold the canister securely. If you use liquid oxygen, keep the container standing up straight and be very careful handling it and refilling your portable oxygen tanks for breathing. Liquid oxygen is extremely cold, and it can injure you if it touches your skin. If you use an oxygen concentrator for your oxygen therapy for COPD side effects, you have much less to worry about when it comes to safety. However, avoid using an extension cord, as this can elevate the risk for an electrical fire (as with any other appliance).

Finally, no matter what oxygen delivery system you use for your oxygen therapy for COPD, keep a fire extinguisher accessible in your house. Your oxygen provider will go over the safety features of whatever type of oxygen equipment you and your doctor choose, but it is best to be prepared for emergencies. If you are not using a concentrator, you should also let your local fire department know that you are keeping compressed or liquid oxygen in your home.

Oxygen Therapy for COPD Side Effects

It is helpful to be aware of potential oxygen therapy for COPD side effects you could experience during your oxygen treatments. Make sure you know the oxygen therapy for COPD guidelines to make sure you use your oxygen for breathing problems properly. Here is what to watch for: 

  • Nasal dryness and skin irritation: Oxygen therapy for COPD can dry or irritate your nasal passages. Try a saline spray or moisturizing product developed specifically for nasal dryness to ease these symptoms.
  • Oxygen toxicity: Patients receiving high concentrations of oxygen for extended periods of time, like premature babies or patients on ventilators, could be at risk for oxygen toxicity. Accordingly, doctors prescribe the lowest therapeutic dose to effectively improve symptoms.
  • Breathing suppression: There is some concern that oxygen therapy could suppress the natural drive to breathe in some patients. However, some reports indicate this is avoidable by using the lowest effective oxygen flow rate. 

Talk to your doctor about any oxygen therapy for COPD side effects you experience and do not make any adjustments to your oxygen therapy without your doctor’s permission

Contact Inogen today to find out more about how our portable oxygen concentrators can improve your experience with oxygen therapy for COPD. We look forward to helping you breathe better, wherever you are. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Oxygen Therapy for COPD

Why do patients with COPD need oxygen?

COPD is a chronic, progressive lung disease that causes damage to the lungs. The result of this damage is that the lungs are unable to absorb oxygen properly, which leaves patients oxygen deprived. Oxygen therapy for COPD increases the amount of oxygen available to patients, allowing them to absorb more oxygen and improve their oxygen saturation. Oxygen therapy for COPD side effects helps treat the symptoms of COPD, reducing shortness of breath, discomfort and fatigue. The benefits of oxygen therapy in COPD are quite extensive, which is why it is a common treatment for this lung disease.

How much oxygen should be given to a patient with COPD?

Only your doctor can decide what your oxygen prescription should be, which will include the amount of time and frequency that you receive oxygen therapy for COPD side effects, as well as the flow rate of your oxygen for breathing problems. Generally speaking, the goal is to get your oxygen saturation levels up to above 90%, but as a COPD patient and oxygen therapy user, you may also be at an elevated risk of hyperoxia (too much oxygen) as well as the potential risk of retaining too much carbon dioxide. As such, it is essential that you follow your doctor’s prescription and never adjust your oxygen therapy for COPD without speaking to your health care provider first. 

What happens when COPD patients get too much oxygen?

Though it is quite rare when COPD patients follow their doctor’s oxygen prescription, oxygen-induced hypoventilation (abnormally slow breathing) or oxygen toxicity can occur. Oxygen-induced hypoventilation occurs with COPD patients with chronic retention of carbon dioxide who also have hypoxic drive (wherein the stimulus to breathe is driven by a decrease in partial pressure of the gases within the blood). When these patients receive oxygen, it can cause them to breathe abnormally slowly, or cease breathing temporarily, which causes a build-up of carbon dioxide in the pulmonary system. Oxygen toxicity, also quite rare, is caused by excessive amounts of supplemental oxygen over a long period of time, which causes damage to the lungs and other organs. For both of these reasons, doctors are extremely careful to prescribe the lowest therapeutic oxygen therapy for COPD dose possible, which is why it is critical that patients do not adjust their oxygen use on their own. 

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