Oxygen is a gas that is vital to human life. One of the components of the air we breathe is a gas called oxygen. Individuals with chronic lung disease may require additional oxygen (through an oxygen concentrator) for their bodies to operate optimally.
Although oxygen therapy may be common in the hospital, it can also be used at home (Oxygen concentrator). Your healthcare provider with us will help you choose the equipment that works best for you. Oxygen is usually delivered through nasal oxygen cannula or a face mask. Oxygen devices can be connected to other medical equipment, e.g. CPAP machines and ventilators.
Diseases like: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) , Sleep Apnea , Bronchitis , COVID-19 , Asbestosis , asthma, lung abscess , lung cancer , Pneumonia , Pulmonary fibrosis or Cystic fibrosis can damage your lungs making it hard for the lungs to get the oxygen from the air into the blood.
In healthy lungs, oxygen is drawn into the lungs with each breath and reaches the alveoli (small air sacs in the lungs).
These air sacs are surrounded by a network of tiny blood vessels, called capillaries. Two important things happen in this tiny space:
1) This is where the red blood cells pick up oxygen.
2) the red blood cells drop off the carbon dioxide carried back to the lungs from tissues and muscles in the body. If this process has been disrupted by Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) , Sleep Apnea , Bronchitis , COVID-19 , Asbestosis , lung abscess , lung cancer , Pneumonia , Pulmonary fibrosis or Cystic fibrosis, the lungs may need some help providing enough oxygen to the body. If this is the case, oxygen therapy be needed.
Oxygen therapy is a medical treatment that is prescribed by a health care provider. You may hear this treatment referred to as “supplemental Oxygen Therapy”, meaning it provides extra oxygen to the body, as some individuals have insufficient oxygen despite it being present in all bodies. Oxygen therapy, or supplemental oxygen, helps make up for low oxygen levels. If it is needed, oxygen therapy is one of the most important ways to manage Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) , Sleep Apnea , Bronchitis , asthma , COVID-19 , Asbestosis , lung abscess , lung cancer , Pneumonia , Pulmonary fibrosis or Cystic fibrosis symptoms in order to breathe better and stay well.
Finding out you need supplemental oxygen can cause you to feel frustrated, scared, and confused. You may feel that people will view you as “handicapped”. You might think it will be a hassle to be connected to an oxygen tank. You may think it will change all the plans you had.
If you are thinking or feeling this way, remember that oxygen therapy can help you feel less tired, less out of breath, and healthier. You may be able to do more than you could before. And it may help you live longer! Using supplemental oxygen, if required, is an important part of managing a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) , Sleep Apnea , asthma , Bronchitis , COVID-19 , Asbestosis , lung abscess , lung cancer , Pneumonia , Pulmonary fibrosis or Cystic fibrosis Diseases.
What Happens When I Have a Low Oxygen Level?
When the oxygen level in the blood is low, it is called hypoxemia (hi-pock-see-mee-ah). Low oxygen levels can affect many parts of the body.
Low oxygen levels in the blood can cause:
- The tubes of the lungs to become smaller.This can cause the heart to pump harder. Over time this strains the heart and as a result it can become larger and weaker.
- The body to make more red blood cells.Red blood cells carry oxygen through the body. By creating more red blood cells, the body is trying to deliver more oxygen. In some people this can cause blood clots, headaches, and high blood pressure.
- Harm to the brain.A person may find their ability to pay attention may be reduced. They may have memory and speech problems and may have trouble solving problems or doing more complex tasks.
- Problems exercising.The ability to do physical activities may be reduced because the muscles in the legs and arms may become weaker.
- Problems performing everyday tasks.Very low levels of oxygen in the blood can lead to confusion, coma, and even death.
What kind of tests measure oxygen in the body?
Arterial Blood Gas
This test is the most accurate. In this test, blood taken out of an artery in the arm, usually at the wrist. Arteries carry blood that has picked up fresh oxygen from the lungs and has been pumped by the heart. This test measures the oxygen in your blood. It can also tell how well your lungs are getting rid of carbon dioxide.
This test is less accurate but is quick and painless. There is no need for a blood sample, but only requires a small device to clip on the end of the finger. This clip shines a light through your blood and reports the percent of saturation of oxygen. Pulse oximetry cannot measure your actual blood oxygen, carbon dioxide level, or other elements in your blood. A pulse oximeter is easy to use and gives fast results but should only be used following instructions from a respiratory health professional.
In this test, you walk while wearing a pulse oximeter to measure your oxygen saturation. If your oxygen saturation drops below a certain point during the test, it may indicate that you need oxygen therapy.
The results of these tests must always meet certain criteria in order for Medicare or your health insurer to pay for oxygen. See below.