You breathe without thinking about it, but this is a bodily function that is extremely important. When you take a breath, the tiny alveoli in inside your lungs absorb the oxygen. When you exhale, carbon dioxide is breathed out. Tiny blood vessels then absorb the oxygen from the alveoli so it can be distributed throughout the rest of your body. Every bit of your body needs oxygen to live and function properly.
Why You Need Oxygen Therapy
A lack of oxygen in your bloodstream is called hypoxia. Your doctor will determine whether or not you would need oxygen therapy by taking a sample of your blood and performing an ABG test. If you are resting and your blood oxygen level is below the amount that it should be for an extended amount of time, your doctor will likely prescribe oxygen therapy. If you are simply out of breath, this isn't a determining factor for needing oxygen therapy. You might only need to use medication, like a bronchodilator.
If it is found that you need oxygen therapy, your doctor will prescribe how much you need and how often you need to use it. You might only need to use it while you are sleeping, or while you are doing something physically active, like going for a walk around your neighborhood.
You should never try to use your oxygen concentrator or other oxygen equipment more than what your doctor has prescribed, and avoid skipping treatments. If you find that you are having an increased ability breathing, you are feeling faint or experiencing any other problem, you should alert your doctor right away.
Conditions That Can Be Treated With Oxygen Therapy
Most of the time, you will be using oxygen therapy along with the other medications for your particular condition.
Heart Failure: If you have been diagnosed with heart failure, your heart is having a hard time pumping enough blood throughout your body. When you can't get enough oxygen to the different parts of your body, your heart tries to compensate and is wearing itself out. Sometimes heart failure can be caused by severe COPD. When you are getting more pure oxygen into your bloodstream with the use of oxygen therapy, your heart won't have to work so hard.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Chronic bronchitis and emphysema fall under the term of COPD. You might have a mild case of it, in which case you might not need oxygen therapy, but a medication like a bronchodilator. COPD is caused by the damage of the alveoli in your lungs, usually caused by smoking tobacco over a long period of time. If you quit smoking, you can usually slow or stop the progression of the disease. Since your alveoli can't absorb as much oxygen because of their damage, supplemental oxygen will provide higher levels at a time to meet your body's needs.
Asthma: If you have a severe case of asthma or you are suffering a severe exacerbation, your doctor might prescribe oxygen therapy to help you recover. Asthma can prevent oxygen from getting into your bloodstream the same way as COPD, and oxygen therapy can have the same helpful effects.