When Do You Need Oxygen for COPD?

To completely understand why you need an oxygen concentrator, you first have to understand why oxygen is important for your body in just about every function that occurs. Certain people will need an oxygen concentrator to run optimally. You also find the answer to a number of other questions.


What is oxygen?

Air is a combination of the number of different gases. The two main gases that we breathe in are nitrogen and oxygen. Approximately 21% of the air we breathe is oxygen. That goes by the abbreviation O2. Oxygen is absolutely essential to the function of every cell in our body. The oxygen is transported to each and every one of these cells through the airwaves and into the lungs.

Anything that might prevent the air from going unobstructed into the lungs can cause problems. This can come from mucus or even the narrowing of the airways from swelling. If the air does not reach the alveoli then the oxygen can’t be delivered. For some patients suffering from COPD, enough air is brought to the alveoli but the capillaries don’t allow enough of the oxygen to pass. That creates hypoxemia from the low oxygen levels. Receiving small amounts of oxygen can lead to the air the coming in at a higher rate than the original 21%. T

hose extra percentage points are to help ensure the oxygen is able to push through the capillaries. When the body needs oxygen, you can’t go to any storage place on the body. Oxygen is not stored. Some patients are required to get continuous oxygen. That can be referred to long-term oxygen therapy. Oxygen is not necessary for every person with COPD. The truth is, very little is actually known about oxygen and many people with COPD are misusing oxygen therapies.

When does someone need oxygen?

A doctor can measure whether or not someone needs oxygen by finding out the amount of oxygen already in the bloodstream. If testing your oxygen shows too low a level than you may require 24-hours a day of oxygen. Many people suffering from COPD don’t need to worry about oxygen while they’re not doing anything but when walking, eating, or performing another lifestyle activity they require it.

Measuring by breathlessness alone is not a trustworthy way of determining when oxygen is required. Many times that you can feel low on breath you’re not actually in need oxygen. On the hand, sometimes when you feel like you have plenty of breath, you may be severely low on oxygen. Oxygen does not necessarily have anything to do with breathlessness. While some patients feel relief from the feeling of the oxygen going into their body, this same feeling can be simulated much more affordably with fan.

A doctor will typically decide whether or not you need oxygen therapy by measuring the amount of oxygen in your blood directly from an artery. The test measures oxygen, carbon dioxide, and the pH of your blood. It’s called an arterial blood gas. This test can be done in a number of different locations depending on where they have the arterial blood equipment.

The test can be done in an office, clinic, or hospital depending on the location of the equipment. The best way to decide whether or not a person needs oxygen is through the proper evaluation using this method. Oxygen levels can be kept track of using a pulse oxygen meter. You might recognize this test is the one with a clip your finger that shines the light through. It’s called oximetry. The light shining through your finger is measured with a small computer to decide whether or not that blood has the correct amount of oxygen within it. Oximetry is not as accurate as arterial blood gases are. It should only be used for general guidance and not for diagnosis.

How much oxygen do I need?

Just like any other medicine prescribed by a medical professional, oxygen needs to be taken as directed. The physician will look at your arterial blood gas and oximetry readings in the decision on the dosage. The doctor will explain the rate your oxygen should be set. Do not use more or less oxygen than the doctor specifically prescribes to ensure that your treatment is only at the level that your body needs. That’s typically over 89%. When the brain receives two much oxygen it can cause slowed breathing. Not receiving enough of the oxygen prescribed can lead to brain problems and heart problems from lack of oxygen.

How long will I have to do it a day?

That depends on your personal case. Some people only need to take it while exercising and sleeping. In many other cases, it should be used as long as possible throughout the day. Whenever oxygen level is shown to be too low, if you use the oxygen less than 15 hours every single day, you will not receive any benefits. That means it won’t protect your brain, heart, and other organs from oxygen deprivation. If instructed by a physician to use continuous oxygen then you should not go off it. If you choose to go off it for a short period then you need to do it while not performing any physical activity including sleeping. Only sitting and relaxing.

During physical activity you need to use more of the oxygen in your blood. Doctors may do a stress test during exercise or walking to measure the amount of oxygen needed for your times of physical activity. That test needs to be done using the same equipment that you’d use during exercise.

The first benefits that people notice using oxygen while exercising is the relief of breathlessness. You may also find that you’re more able to complete the activities that you’re doing.

Do I need oxygen while I sleep?

Breathing slows while you sleep. When someone lacks oxygen levels while awake, they most commonly also suffer from lack of oxygen while sleeping. In many cases, oxygen may be required in extra amounts while sleeping. Only a qualified healthcare provider can tell you whether or not you need oxygen at night. They can also tell you how much you need. This will typically be measured using a number of methods that can keep track of how much oxygen you have in your blood while you’re asleep. In some cases, you may be asked to do a sleep study at a sleep laboratory.

How can I receive oxygen?

There are a number of different machines that can help you meet your oxygen needs. There are a wide variety of different kinds depending on the patient and why they’re getting the oxygen. The three typical delivery systems of oxygen include oxygen cylinders, liquid oxygen, and oxygen concentrators.

Tsvetan Petrov

I am a professional health blogger and nutrition guru, writing for over 7 years!

2 thoughts on “When Do You Need Oxygen for COPD?

  • April 17, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    I would like to suggest that 89% is the lowest sats one should keep, that amount allows barely enough for existance, that one should ask their doctor it they might use an oximeter and be allowed to keep their O2 saturation at NORMAL so they can achieve normal activities. any where from 94% to 98% allows much more extertion, less hard and faster recovery. Look up \Dr Richard Casaburi’s research
    Lyn- CO


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