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What is Oxygen Therapy? (O2 Therapy)

oxygen therapy, o2 therapy

What Is Oxygen Therapy or O2 Therapy?

Oxygen therapy, sometimes referred to as O2 therapy, is a type of medical intervention that provides extra oxygen, one of the most abundant gases in the universe and a necessity to keeping our cells and bodies healthy, to people who are suffering from sudden or long-term health conditions.

The air we breathe contains approximately 21% oxygen, so what is oxygen therapy used for if our air already contains oxygen? Although this amount of oxygen might be sufficient for people with healthy lungs, it may not be enough for people with chronic lung conditions like COPD whose lungs do not process air as effectively. That’s where oxygen therapy, or O2 therapy, comes in. When you ask, “What is oxygen therapy?” you may be wondering how the oxygen is administered. Oxygen therapy can be delivered via oxygen gas, liquid oxygen, oxygen concentrators or hyperbaric oxygen therapy. However the oxygen treatment is delivered, the goal is to improve the absorption of oxygen into the bloodstream and body.

Who Needs Oxygen Therapy?

Oxygen therapy may be prescribed for any number of reasons. People with COPD, lung disease, pneumonia, asthma, heart failure, sleep apnea, cystic fibrosis, other chronic lung conditions or respiratory trauma may need oxygen therapy to help their lungs absorb the oxygen their bodies need. It may be needed for a short or long period of time, and can be administered at home or under medical care, depending on the kind of oxygen treatment needed.

Many people believe that shortness of breath is the qualifying factor for supplemental oxygen, but additional criteria must be met before a doctor can prescribe oxygen treatment to their patients. In addition to shortness of breath, doctors will ask about a number of different symptoms, including rapid breathing and heart rate, wheezing, coughing, sweating, confusion and changes in mood, behavior or skin color. If you’re experiencing more than one of these symptoms, you may not be getting enough oxygen and you may quality for oxygen therapy.

Before being selected for therapy, your doctor will order an arterial blood gas (ABG) study or conduct a pulse oximetry test to measure the amount of oxygen in your blood. Generally speaking, medical oxygen is required if your blood oxygen level is less than or equal to 55 mg Hg or your oxygen saturation level is 88% or lower. If your doctor determines that your blood oxygen levels are low, they may recommend that you begin O2 therapy.

How Many Hours a Day Must You Use Oxygen Therapy?

The amount of time you use O2 therapy will be based on your individual needs and determined by your doctor. While some people only need oxygen treatment while participating in certain activities, like exercising or sleeping, other people need it more regularly. The good news is that using oxygen therapy for more than 15 hours a day increases survival in some patients.1 Oxygen treatment has many more benefits – both short and long term – in addition to increasing life expectancy. Depending on the type of oxygen therapy delivery system you use, you may still be able to lead your regular, active life, even while receiving oxygen treatment. To learn more about the many ways supplemental oxygen can benefit you, read Portable Oxygen Benefits.

Are There Any Side Effects Associated with Supplemental Oxygen Treatment?

When used correctly, O2 therapy is both safe and effective. Like any prescription drug, however, side effects may occur. The following includes the most commonly reported side effects associated with supplemental oxygen and oxygen therapy equipment:

  • Nasal dryness – Supplemental oxygen can have a drying effect on your entire respiratory tract starting with your nose and nasal passages. Using a moisturizing product such as AYR Saline Nasal Mist can help lubricate your nasal passages, making the therapy more comfortable.
  • Skin irritation – Given that the prongs of the nasal cannula rest just inside the nares, it’s not uncommon for the skin in that area to become red and irritated. Applying AYR Nasal Gel in and around the nasal openings may help soothe this highly sensitive area, providing protection against skin breakdown.
  • Risk of fire – Although oxygen is not flammable in and of itself, it supports combustion, meaning that things burn more readily in its presence. Never smoke or allow anyone to smoke while using supplemental oxygen. Avoid using your oxygen near an open flame or other sources of heat such as an electric stove. Steer clear of personal care products that contain petroleum.
  • Suppression of the drive to breathe – The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute reports that this type of therapy may suppress the drive to breathe in a select group of patients. This can generally be managed by adjusting your oxygen flow rate.2 That said, it’s important that you always follow your doctor’s orders regarding your oxygen prescription. Never increase your oxygen dose without first checking with your health care provider.

Oxygen Therapy Benefits

Although there could be some side effects associated with O2 therapy, there are also a number of oxygen therapy benefits. In fact, when it comes to people living with chronic lung conditions like COPD, the oxygen therapy benefits can be life-changing. If you have lung disease or another chronic lung condition, your doctor may prescribe oxygen treatment to help you breathe better. In addition, oxygen therapy can help you live longer, experience fewer complications, reduce your symptoms, increase your exercise stamina, make air travel easier and generally improve your quality of life. If you’re struggling to breathe easily, oxygen therapy can make a huge difference in how you feel day to day.

How Inogen Can Help with Your Oxygen Therapy

Oxygen therapy, when used as prescribed, can give you the energy you need to function better and be more physically active. Many people think that oxygen treatment means remaining tethered to a home oxygen machine or hauling around heavy oxygen canisters. Thankfully, with innovations in O2 therapy delivery systems, this doesn’t have to be your experience. With portable oxygen concentrators from Inogen, it can be easy for you to maintain your freedom, mobility and independence. Inogen was founded on the belief that supplemental oxygen treatment should not hold you back from living your life, so Inogen One portable oxygen concentrators were developed to help you get the oxygen you need, anytime, anywhere. The Inogen One Systems are designed to allow you to continue living an active, healthy life at home or on the go. With Inogen portable oxygen concentrators, you can keep up with your daily routine around the house, without being stuck in one spot, or you can travel about town as you see fit, without having to pull heavy and cumbersome oxygen tanks behind you.

Even better, you never have to worry about running out of oxygen, as Inogen portable oxygen concentrators are designed to produce oxygen continuously by pulling and purifying air directly from the atmosphere, no refills required. As long as you have power via your rechargeable battery or an AC or DC power source, you’ll have an infinite supply of oxygen for as long as you need it, wherever you go. Inogen One oxygen concentrators are incredibly energy efficient, providing O2 therapy while using about as much energy as a 40-watt light bulb, and it is so quiet that most people do not notice that the concentrator is on. Portable, compact and quiet, your portable oxygen concentrator will not get in the way of your life. You can maintain an active social life and continue to enjoy activities in and out of your home, all while receiving your oxygen therapy benefits.

If you need oxygen therapy, find out how the Inogen oxygen concentrators can improve your quality of life. Talk to your doctor about how Inogen can help you with your oxygen treatment today.

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