Just finding out that you do need oxygen therapy, or you might need it, can be a scary thing. It doesn't need to be so scary though, since it should be treated just like any other type of medication. Your doctor is the only one that can say if you need to use oxygen therapy, so you should heed his or her advice over all. If you're curious about how oxygen therapy is prescribed and why, here are a few facts on the subject.
Why do I need oxygen therapy?
Medical oxygen therapy is necessary when you cannot bring enough oxygen into your lungs to disperse throughout your body. Every cell in your body needs oxygen, and if you aren't getting enough, your health will begin to decline pretty quickly. Even if you aren't getting enough oxygen over the course of a few days, you will begin to feel very run-down. Feeling run-down will lower your quality of life, and over time, lack of oxygen will cause your organs to fail.
If you lung function has been compromised, your doctor might prescribe oxygen therapy if he or she finds that it's necessary for your to get enough oxygen throughout your body. This is determined by a few different tests, such as a spirometry test, an arterial blood gas test, and chest x-rays.
How do I know if I need oxygen therapy?
Aside from the tests mentioned above that your doctor might order, there is another way to see if you need to use oxygen therapy. A pulse oximeter is the little electronic device that is clamped gently on your finger, which reads your blood oxygen level on a computer monitor.
If your blood oxygen level is continuously low, it can also be determined that you will need to use a certain amount of oxygen therapy to bring it up. According to the American Thoracic Society, oxygen therapy should be able to keep your blood oxygen level above 88%.
How many hours per day will I need to use oxygen therapy?
This will be determined by your doctor, after tests have been run and observations have been made. In general, how long you need to use oxygen therapy and how often is determined by the severity of your condition. If your blood oxygen level is dangerously low, your doctor will prescribe it for a longer period of time. It can also be determined at which times of the day you will need to use it, such as overnight, or right when you wake up in the morning.
How much oxygen will I need?
The dosage will be determined by your doctor, and will be included in your prescription information along with how long and how often you will need to use it. Continuous flow is often used for those who need higher dosages, but your doctor might prescribe you a pulse dose setting.
What are the benefits of oxygen therapy?
Aside from helping you live longer, you can expect a general feeling of well-being. With more oxygen in your body, you'll be able to think much more clearly, sleep better, have more energy, and be in a better mood. Even with these changes, you can expect your life to improve greatly.
How do I use oxygen therapy safely?
In general, you should never be around any sort of high heat or open flame while using your oxygen therapy. The oxygen from your cannula can turn the smallest spark into a huge flame in a matter of a few seconds. Stay away from space heaters with coils, gas stoves, fire places and people smoking by at least 8 feet. Always use your oxygen therapy exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you overuse it, it can be just as damaging as not using it enough.