Home Oxygen: Who Needs It and Why?

Every person needs oxygen in order to survive.  The air we breathe around us contains 21% oxygen.  This air is inhaled into our lungs then passed into the bloodstream where it is carried to the bodys tissue, organs, and cells.  Every single cell in every persons body needs a consistent supply of oxygen to properly function.  

Who Needs Oxygen Therapy? Why?

Some people that suffer from breathing disorders cant get enough oxygen breathing on their own.  To some, 21% oxygen is not enough. If that is the case, often times they are prescribed supplemental oxygen or oxygen therapy.  People that suffer from asthma, heart failure, pneumonia, different types of lung disease, newborns that have underdeveloped lungs, and more may be treated with oxygen therapy.  Those that experience rapid breathing, a fast heart rate, coughing and/or wheezing, shortness of breath, or notice a change in the color of your skin should seek medical attention as soon as possible, as you may not be getting enough oxygen.

Not everyone is a good candidate for oxygen therapy, however.  Doctors will test how much oxygen is in their arterial blood or will use a pulse oximeter that clips onto your finger to determine whether or not a person will benefit from supplemental oxygen.  Some people require supplemental oxygen 24/7 and some only require it occasionally or during certain times. Oxygen therapy can be done at a doctors office, at home, or on the go with a portable system.
Some people use supplemental oxygen for a short time and others will need to use it the rest of their lives.  It really depends on why oxygen therapy was prescribed. If your specific condition improves and your blood oxygen levels return to normal ranges when oxygen therapy is not in use, you likely do not need it anymore.  Of course, a conversation must be held with your doctor to determine if you will need to continue the use of supplemental oxygen.

Methods of Oxygen Therapy

Liquid Oxygen: Air is cooled until it becomes a pale blue liquid and is stored in reservoirs.  There typically is a home base unit where most of the liquid oxygen is stored. Smaller tanks are supplied for use around the home and/or for travel.
Compressed Gas: Oxygen is compressed and stored in large, heavy pressurized tanks and then are delivered to your home.

Oxygen Concentrator: Normal, surrounding air is pumped into the oxygen concentrator and goes through a filter which converts normal air to 90+ percent oxygen.  These are available in several different sizes; some are stationary and some are easily portable. This is easier to maintain, less expensive, and is a common/popular method used these days.

Benefits of Supplemental Oxygen

Oxygen therapy has many benefits that include improved sleep and mood, prolonged life, increased alertness and stamina, and an overall better quality of life.  With oxygen therapy, your body and all its organ are able to properly function. Those that use supplemental oxygen are able to more easily complete everyday tasks and responsibilities.