Oxygen therapy is the administration of oxygen as a medical intervention, which can be for a variety of purposes in both chronic and acute patient care.Oxygen therapy benefits the patient by increasing the supply of oxygen to the lungs and thereby increasing the availability of oxygen to the body tissues.It helps in preventing heart failure in people with severe lung diseases, such as COPD. Some studies have shown an increase in survival rates in patients who use oxygen more than 15 hours a day. Moreover supplemental oxygen improves sleep, mood, mental alertness and stamina and allows individuals to carry out normal, everyday functions.
An injured or ill person can benefit greatly from receiving air with a higher oxygen concentration.The air a person normally breathes contains approximately 21 percent oxygen. The concentration of oxygen delivered to a victim through rescue breathing is 16 percent.Without adequate oxygen, hypoxia, a condition in which insufficient oxygen reaches the cells, will occur.
Signs and symptoms of hypoxia include
- Increased breathing and heart rate.Changes in level of consciousness.
Cyanosis (bluish lips and nailbeds).
Always provide emergency oxygen to a victim having difficulty breathing if it is available.
Emergency oxygen should be considered if
An adult is breathing fewer than 12 breaths per minute or more than 20 breaths per minute.
A child is breathing fewer than 15 breaths per minute or more than 30 breaths per minute.
An infant is breathing fewer than 25 breaths per minute or more than 50 breaths per minute.
Indications for Oxygen Therapy
Acute Diseases and Conditions
Some diseases and conditions that may require short-term oxygen therapy are:
- Severe pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in one or both of the lungs. If severe, the infection causes your lungs' air sacs to become very inflamed. This prevents the air sacs from moving enough oxygen into your blood.
- Severe asthma attack. Asthma is a lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. Most people who have asthma, including many children, can safely manage their symptoms. But if you have a severe asthma attack, you may need hospital care that includes oxygen therapy.
- Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) or bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) in premature babies. Premature babies may develop one or both of these serious lung conditions. As part of their treatment, they may receive extra oxygen through a nasal continuous positive airway pressure (NCPAP) machine or a ventilator, or through a tube in the nose.
Chronic Diseases and Conditions
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). This is a progressive disease in which damage to the air sacs prevents them from moving enough oxygen into the bloodstream. "Progressive" means the disease gets worse over time.
- Late-stage heart failure. This is a condition in which the heart can't pump enough oxygen-rich blood to meet the body's needs.
- Cystic fibrosis (CF). CF is an inherited disease of the secretory glands, including the glands that make mucus and sweat. People who have CF have thick, sticky mucus that collects in their airways. The mucus makes it easy for bacteria to grow. This leads to repeated, serious lung infections. Over time, these infections can severely damage the lungs.
- Sleep-related breathing disorders that lead to low levels of oxygen in the blood during sleep, such as sleep apnea.