Oxygen is a drug and must be prescribed by your physician. Oxygen is gas at room temperature that is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. When we breath we use the roughly 21% oxygen in the air to sustain our lives. Our bodies get energy from a combination of the food we eat plus oxygen from the air we breathe. The energy created from food and oxygen enables us to use our muscles to breathe, perform work, and carry out all bodily functions.
If you have ever experienced difficulty breathing, or if you have lung or heart problems, you have probably wondered about using oxygen at home. A heart weakened by disease may not be able to pump as much oxygen carrying blood and a lung disease may diminish your body’s ability to pass oxygen into your bloodstream. Your doctor has prescribed home oxygen for you based on laboratory tests that measure the level of oxygen in your blood, a physical examination, and or an assessment of your symptoms, that the use of oxygen in the home will be a benefit to you. Without oxygen you might experience fatigue, diminished ability for activities, memory loss, moments of confusion, or breathing difficulties.
While oxygen therapy relieves many of the adverse symptoms associated with low oxygen levels, much of the damage caused by heart disease or lung diseases like emphysema are irreversible.
Your doctor will determine how much oxygen you should receive and for how many hours each day. For the maximum benefit be sure to follow your doctor’s order exactly.
No, oxygen is not addicting. If your doctor determines that your capability to properly oxygenate yourself without oxygen has improved, you may no longer require supplemental home oxygen.
The only way to know that you are getting the correct amount of oxygen is to check the oxygen level in your blood while using oxygen therapy. Too much oxygen can be as dangerous as not receiving enough, and for that reason, you should follow your doctors directions precisely. If you do develop new symptoms, such as increased sleepiness, confusion, headaches, etc., you might be getting too much oxygen, and you should notify your physician immediately. Do not change the liter flow or hours of usage without first checking with your doctor.
Once you begin your home oxygen therapy you can look forward to sleeping better, remember things better, being less irritable, feel more energetic, and suffer fewer depressions. Your ability to endure more exercise will increase and you typically spend less time hospitalized. You will be able to lead a happier and more productive life.
Oxygen is most commonly delivered to you via tubing called a nasal cannula. This cannula is placed under your nose and over your ears. Additional tubing of up to 50 feet may be added for mobility within your home.