Oxygen is vital for human life. Sometimes people cannot get enough oxygen naturally and will need oxygen therapy. Oxygen therapy also benefits perfectly healthy people too. Increasing the amount of oxygen in their bloodstream boosts energy levels, improves sleep and generally contributes to their all-round well-being.
The oxygen therapy benefits for people who can’t get enough oxygen due to lung conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, asthma and bronchopulmonary dysplasia, are huge. The quality of their lives is improved significantly because they have more stamina, can be more active and move around and suffer less from shortness of breath. Oxygen therapy also reduces symptoms of these conditions like headaches, irritability, fatigue and swollen ankles. The main benefit of long term, regular oxygen therapy in some of these instances is that it increases survival rates significantly.
Whilst some people may need up to 15 hours of oxygen therapy a day, others only need it now and then or in specific circumstances. People who need extra oxygen can live normal active lives. Once they become adept at managing their oxygen equipment the therapy need not limit their activity levels or routine.
There are 2 types of oxygen therapy
- Normobaric oxygen therapy
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
Normobaric oxygen therapy is supplemental oxygen that delivers 40%-100% of saturated oxygen, at the same pressure as the atmosphere, to the body. Excessive oxygen can be harmful so this type of oxygen therapy must be carefully monitored and managed.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is supplemental oxygen that is 100% saturated and is delivered at higher atmospheric pressures. Patients go into a full-body, high-pressure chamber so that the oxygen can reach even the deepest tissues of the body.
Oxygen therapy is approved to treat a range of conditions, including:
- Wounds (such as diabetic ulcers) that are resistant to healing
- Tissue damage & death associated with radiation
- Flesh-eating bacteria
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Decompression sickness
- Acute arterial ischemia
- Skin graft rejection
- Severe infections
- Air or gas embolism
- Severe anaemia
It must be remembered that any oxygen therapy must be administered by a qualified healthcare practitioner. Oxygen therapy is being investigated as a treatment for several other health conditions. Here are some of the afflictions that could soon be shown to benefit from oxygen therapy.
Acute Lung Failure – choppy and laboured inhalation causes low oxygen levels in the blood. It has been documented that emergency normobaric oxygen therapy cleared the upper airways, reduced pressure on the lungs and improved overall lung function.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – these progressive lung diseases, like emphysema and chronic bronchitis, respond well to long-term oxygen therapy treatments. It would appear to reduce anxiety, improve sleep quality and promote the desire, and ability, to exercise and be active.
Cystic Fibrosis – is caused by the absence of the CFTR gene and is, as such, a genetic condition that manifests in terrible breathing problems. Supplemental normobaric oxygen therapy has also been shown to assist people suffering from cystic fibrosis to enjoy a better quality of life with more energy and improved sleep patterns thanks to the increased oxygen in the person’s bloodstream.
There is not enough evidence to prove that oxygen therapy benefits people suffering from asthma or recovering from a stroke. However, some tests have been done and oxygen therapy is believed to reduce symptoms of an asthmatic. It is also believed to be extremely beneficial if administered immediately after a stroke as it reduces swelling in the brain and gives cells a boost.