Oxygen is indispensable in modern medicine and is one of the most common forms of emergency medication. The use of medical oxygen is crucial for people with lung diseases or other medical conditions. And such patients often require home oxygen therapy to prevent shortness of breath that can otherwise severely impact the brain, heart and other parts of the body.
With home oxygen therapy, a patient receives adequate oxygen to help with breathing and maintain proper functions of other vital organs. The following discussion will offer some important insight if you are starting oxygen therapy for any medical condition like chronic bronchitis, asthma, cystic fibrosis or COPD.
How will your blood oxygen level be measured?
Blood oxygen level will be measured by testing arterial blood gas. Here, blood is drawn from the wrist to get accurate measures of oxygen in your blood. Your doctor can also determine oxygen level using pulse oximetry, a simpler and pain-free method. After deciding how much extra oxygen you need, you can start using prescribed oxygen therapy at home.
What ideally comprises your prescription?
Your prescription for medical oxygen will be based on the flow rate, duration of use and type of supply equipment.
Flow rate states the extra oxygen you require from your home oxygen therapy. It may remain constant or change based on your activities.
Duration of use is the number of hours you need to use oxygen therapy daily. For example, a patient suffering from COPD is prescribed to use 16-24 hours daily.
There are different types of supply equipment, and you will be recommended one that suits your lifestyle and the funding you receive.
How do you receive oxygen therapy?
The three types of oxygen equipment used for home oxygen therapy are:
- Portable oxygen concentrators
- Liquid oxygen tanks
- Compressed oxygen tanks
Portable oxygen concentrators can be the best choice when you work or run errands. The weight of these concentrators varies between 3-20 pounds so that you can carry them easily. Also, you can find some models that run on battery packs or can be plugged into the car.
Liquid oxygen tanks are thermos-like tanks that store oxygen in liquid form. These tanks weigh about 100 pounds and need refilling every few weeks. You may also have a smaller canister that’s easy to carry outdoors.
Compressed oxygen tanks are probably a less common choice. These tanks compress oxygen under high pressure and are usually very heavy. Compressed gas is also available in portable and smaller-sized cylinders, but they don’t last long.
What safety measures should you follow?
Oxygen makes things burn easily. Hence, you must follow these essential safety tips when using medical oxygen:
- Do not allow anyone to light up near you. You should avoid cigarette lighters, burning tobacco or any form of open flames.
- Stay at least 5 feet away from candles, gas heaters and lighted fireplaces.
- Do not use flammable products like aerosol sprays, paint thinners or cleaning fluids.
- Ensure your oxygen container is upright and attached to a fixed place so it doesn’t topple.
- Refrain from using products with petroleum, grease or oil.
- Keep a fire extinguisher close at hand. Also, inform the fire department when you are taking home oxygen therapy.
- Inform your electric company so that you get priority service when there is a power failure.
Oxygen therapy can assist people suffering from conditions leading to reduced oxygen levels. So, when you integrate this form of therapy into your daily routine, you can enhance your quality of life. Also, with portable oxygen systems, you can continue your everyday activities and go outdoors.