What is oxygen therapy?
Oxygen therapy is the therapeutic use of oxygen to help people that struggle to maintain the levels of oxygen required by the body to function effectively.
Factors that may cause you to not be able to breathe in the appropriate oxygen levels include:
- Inability to take a deep breath in – perhaps due to dyspnoea (shortness of breath), pain or fatigue
- Reduced lung volume
- Long term damage caused by chronic respiratory disease such as emphysema,
- Build up of secretions (phlegm) that present a blockage for airflow
- Inability to expand chest perhaps due to pain or muscular weakness
The oxygen can be humidified (moist) or non-humidified (dry), and can be delivered in a number of ways such as:
- through a simple face mask
- through nasal cannula (nose tube)
- through a partial re-breathe face mask (face mask with a reservoir bag on)
What are the benefits of oxygen therapy?
Oxygen therapy provides the patient with more oxygen to breathe in. Providing more oxygen leads to the following benefits:
- Reduced incidence / severity of breathlessness
- Ability to do more
- Enhanced quality of life
Who would benefit from oxygen therapy?
Oxygen therapy would benefit patients with a respiratory condition that either struggle to take in enough oxygen, or struggle to utilise the oxygen they do take in.
Oxygen therapy can be used as a short-term solution to bring back up the oxygen levels in people who are acutely ill, or as a more long-term intervention in people with a chronic lung condition who consistently struggle to breathe in appropriate levels of oxygen.
Oxygen therapy can be provided as a home based mobile treatment for those with a severe chronic lung condition– this is prescribed to be used at times when the patient struggles the most for example whilst sleeping. Patients with the following conditions may benefit from long-term oxygen therapy within the home in the later stages of their condition:
- chronic bronchitis
- occupational lung disease
- lung cancer
- cystic fibrosis
- congestive heart failure