Your doctor may prescribe oxygen therapy if you’ve been diagnosed with COPD or another chronic lung condition. These chronic illnesses can make breathing extremely difficult and can leave you feeling breathless.
Oxygen therapy gives your body the oxygen it needs to survive, making breathing and maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle achievable. If you’ve recently been diagnosed with COPD or a different lung condition or have recently been prescribed oxygen therapy, you likely have a few (or more) questions.
You should speak with your doctor about any and all questions and concerns you may have. Until then, here are some answers to commonly asked questions about oxygen therapy.
1. Can I leave my house when using my oxygen concentrator?
If you are able to use a portable concentrator, yes, you will be able to leave your home while using oxygen. The type of concentrator you will use depends on your specific oxygen needs. If you require more than 5 liters per minute (LPM) of continuous oxygen flow for longer than 12 hours each day, you will not be able to leave or travel as much. If you require less than 3 LPM, you will be able to use a portable concentrator. Portable concentrators are very convenient and will allow you to travel just about any place.
2. Is oxygen flammable?
Oxygen is not flammable, combustible, or explosive. However, fire needs oxygen to burn and spread. Because of this, and the fact that oxygen concentrators produce pure oxygen, a small flame can quickly become a large flame. If you are using oxygen therapy, you need to stay at least 8-10 feet away from an open flame. For more oxygen therapy safety tips, head here.
3. How long will I use oxygen therapy each day?
This varies from patient to patient and will need to be discussed and prescribed by your doctor. It is important to stick to your prescribed dosage. Otherwise, you may be at risk of oxygen toxicity.
4. Can I overdose on the oxygen used in oxygen therapy?
Oxygen therapy saves the lives of many people living with COPD and other chronic conditions, however, you can get too much oxygen. This is known as oxygen toxicity. Those at high risk of developing oxygen toxicity are hospital patients (including, and especially, premature infants), deep sea divers, and those needing oxygen therapy for different types of poisoning and other conditions. If you stick to your doctor’s prescribed dose you are typically not at risk for oxygen toxicity.
5. Will I experience any side effects with oxygen therapy?
You may experience a dry nose which can be fixed with a humidifier bottle that can be attached to your oxygen concentrator and nasal saline. Otherwise, should you experience any other side effects, including headaches or fatigue, call your doctor right away. Other side effects could indicate that your oxygen dosage is too high.
6. Can I become addicted to the oxygen used during oxygen therapy?
No, you cannot become addicted to oxygen therapy. Your body and every single living cell in your body needs oxygen to survive. If you do not receive the proper amount of oxygen your body needs, you will become sick and your health will decline.