As with many health issues, there are a few myths surrounding the use oxygen therapy. All myths have even the smallest grounds in truth, so there are worth taking into consideration. By examining myths and bringing out the truth in them, we will learn much more about oxygen therapy. There is no such thing as a stupid question, especially when it comes to your health.
Myth: Anyone can use a portable oxygen concentrator.
Fact: Patients who need a high flow of oxygen might not be able to use a portable oxygen concentrator, since there are currently no portable oxygen concentrators that provide more than 3 LPM of continuous flow. If you need 4 LPM or more of continuous flow, you can only use liquid oxygen tanks, which will provide you this volume of oxygen, for longer than a compressed oxygen tank. If you are prescribed a certain amount of oxygen, it's dangerous to get any less than that.
Myth: Oxygen will explode if it comes in contact with fire.
Fact: Oxygen itself will not explode, but it does feed a flame, which will cause it to grow rapidly and make it appear to “blow up”. This is why it's dangerous for you to get close to an open flame while using your oxygen concentrator or other means of oxygen therapy. The oxygen could catch the flame and cause the fire to spread to your clothing, or surrounding materials such as carpet or upholstery.
Myth: You can become addicted to oxygen.
Fact: An addiction means you are dependent on something, and you feel as if you cannot function without it. This is essentially what oxygen is to us naturally and literally. There is no way to become addicted to oxygen therapy, since our bodies already need it to stay alive. Every cell of your body needs it to function, especially your brain and your heart. Your brain uses about 25% of your body's oxygen. Oxygen does have a positive effect on us, and can give us more energy and make us feel better in general, and you may become “addicted” in a sense, to how much better you feel when using it.
Myth: Oxygen therapy will take away your hypoxic drive, meaning your body will no longer have a stimulus to breath correctly.
Fact: This may work in theory, but our bodies are much smarter than this. If you have COPD or another disease that causes lung damage and lowering of lung function, there is a build up of carbon dioxide in the lungs. The presence of carbon dioxide in the lungs is the main stimulus for us to breathe, since we need to exhale the carbon dioxide to bring the oxygen in. There is another function in our body that samples how much oxygen is in our blood. When the oxygen level lowers, and if you are using oxygen therapy to bring it back up, you will still keep the stimulus to keep taking breaths.