You've been prescribed the use of oxygen therapy because you have a low amount of oxygen in your bloodstream. You now have to use oxygen for a part of the day, overnight or continuously, and understandably you might feel restricted. Even if you only require oxygen therapy while you are physically active, you might be missing the days when you didn't need it at all.
The use of an oxygen concentrator or other oxygen device can make you feel restrained or feel like some of your freedom has been taken away. It's normal to feel like this, but you can begin to look at oxygen therapy as a second chance at becoming healthy.
When we can't get enough oxygen through our lungs and into the rest of our bodies, the body suffers a great deal. Over time, you can develop heart failure because your heart has been overworking itself to disperse enough oxygen-rich blood. Your brain can become damaged, and even a little bit of brain damage due to inadequate oxygen can have a traumatizing impact on your body as well as the way you think. If you think about it, life would be a lot harder if you weren't using oxygen therapy now that you need it.
Depending on the severity of your chronic condition, you may or may not be able to stop using oxygen therapy. If you have severe COPD resulting in hypoxemia (lack of sufficient oxygen in your blood), you may need to use oxygen therapy for the rest of your life. Nothing is impossible; however, it's just essential that you don't try to jump the gun and stop using your oxygen or taper off the use of it. You should talk to your doctor first if you believe you can change how much oxygen you need.
There are some things you can do to help you improve your lung function if you hope ever to need less or no supplemental oxygen. Eat foods that are known to improve lung function, such as tomatoes, mushrooms and anything that contains high levels of omega-3 fats and antioxidants. You should get as much of these foods as you can in your diet. Drink plenty of water and avoid foods that contain trans fats. Drinking alcohol will take your lung function down further if you drink more than the daily recommended amount.
Exercise, as well as pulmonary therapy, can help improve the lung function in people with COPD and other breathing problems. Before you begin any exercise program, talk to your doctor. He or she will be able to help you decide on an exercise program that won't overexert you but will improve your lung function over time.
Of course, if you smoke, you will need to quit if you ever want to stop using oxygen therapy. Even if you have been diagnosed with COPD, you can prevent the progression of the disease if you quit smoking. Despite your reason for needing oxygen therapy, smoking will only increase your need for it because of the adverse effects it has on your lungs, as well as the rest of your body.
There are also risky and expensive options of lung surgery or lung transplants. If you are patient, have the means and are willing to take risks to taper off of the oxygen eventually, these are options. As you heal from a procedure like this, you will still require oxygen therapy, but you might need less and less as time goes on.
At any rate, it will take a considerable amount of time and effort on your part if you'd like to be someday healthy enough not to need oxygen therapy.
Information on this page is for reference and educational purposes only. For more information, talk to your doctor or primary care provider.
Page last updated: October 29, 2018