How Your Oxygen Needs Can Change Over Time

Your doctor prescribed to you, oxygen therapy because your lungs aren't able to bring in enough oxygen for the rest of your body. The flow settings of your oxygen concentrator were prescribed to you, because of your individual oxygen needs. Your doctor was able to make a decision based on a few specific tests that were ran on your lungs and your blood.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a progressive disease, meaning it will get worse over time. There are things you can do to help slow the progression of the disease, but it will gradually get worse over time. It's possible to significantly slow it down so that your quality of life won't go down dramatically over the years.

You will always need oxygen therapy, and three years from now, five years from now, or ten years from now, your oxygen needs will likely change slightly or possibly dramatically. It's all in how you are treated and how you look after yourself.

Your oxygen needs are determined primarily by your lung function. Your lung function is based off of a test called a spirometry test, and your lung function effects your blood oxygen level, which is tested with an arterial blood gas test and by checking with a pulse oximeter (the medical device that squeezes your finger to check your blood oxygen level).

The level of oxygen you need will increase over time, because once your lungs have become damaged to the severity of stage II or III COPD, they are weaker and more susceptible to further damage. Your lungs are more susceptible to infection from bacteria and viruses. Even the common cold can deal a significant blow to your lungs once you have COPD. If your lungs are damaged even more, your need for oxygen increases more quickly.

You can significantly slow your increasing need for oxygen therapy by doing a few things. The first and most important thing you can do, is quit smoking. Continuing to smoke will speed up the progression of COPD, because smoking is usually the cause of COPD in the first place. If you simply have asthma, it will get worse because you are decreasing your lung function by smoking. Your lung function decreases, and the amount of oxygen you need increases.

You can also slow the progression of COPD with respiratory therapy, which is done under the guidance of a respiratory therapist, and involves using oxygen while doing some gentle form of exercise, such as walking at a brisk pace, light jogging or riding a bike. After doing this for a while, your doctor and your respiratory therapist might instruct you on how to do this on your own at home.

Drinking plenty of water, enough sleep at night, and eating nutritious foods high in protein, vitamins and antioxidants, as well as staying current on flu and pneumonia shots will also helps slow the progression of COPD. The most important thing to do is follow your doctor's instructions, and take your medicine and oxygen therapy as directed.

About Scott Ridl: Scott joined American Medical Sales and Rentals in 2008 as a Web Manager and Content Writer. He is a writer and designer. He is extensively trained on oxygen therapy products from leading manufacturers such as Inogen, Respironics, Chart, Invacare, ResMed and more. Scott works closely with respiratory therapists and oxygen specialists to educate the community about oxygen therapy products, COPD, asthma and lung diseases. He writes weekly columns and is passionate about educating the community on oxygen therapy and respiratory issues.

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