What is Oxygen Therapy?



When something such as an illness or accident causes the amount of oxygen that actually reached the blood stream to drop below 88%, then supplemental oxygen is needed. The lowered oxygen in the bloodstream can cause damage to vital organs such as the heart, brain, liver and kidney. Breathing even small amounts of supplemental oxygen allows the oxygen level in the air to rise above 21% to 23 or 24%. This small increase is enough to help raise the percent of the oxygen that gets into the capillaries and on into the bloodstream. Since the body cannot store oxygen, this additional oxygen needs to be given at the time the body is low on oxygen. In many instances, this requires that the COPD patient must use oxygen 24 hours a day. The basic treatment, providing supplemental oxygen, either part time or full time, is referred to as oxygen therapy. The need for continuous oxygen, usually 24 hours per day is called long term oxygen therapy (LTOT).

In addition to protecting vital organs, other benefits of oxygen therapy include:

●  helping to function better and be more active

●  helping to increase exercise capabilities

●  decrease shortness of breath and fatigue (tiredness)

●  improve sleep in some people who have sleep-related breathing disorders

●  increase the life span of many COPD patients

Note: Oxygen therapy is the only medical treatment that has been proven to increase the COPD patients life span as well as the quality of life.

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