Oxygen is needed by every cell in your body to function properly. And normal breathing, healthy lung function and sufficient blood circulation are your natural delivery systems to get it to there.
However, when not enough of this vital gas is making it around, then oxygen treatment is used to make up for the shortfall. And because the FDA considers oxygen a drug, it must be prescribed to treat any health conditions.
When the oxygen blood level is inadequate to support the needs of your body, known as hypoxia, you’ll likely experience some of these symptoms:
Home oxygen therapy is a method used by chronic health sufferers of respiratory diseases and certain heart problems to lead a more active life. Home oxygen treatment is routinely utilized by those with:
- lung failure
- lung cancer
- cystic fibrosis
- cor pulmonale
- chronic bronchitis
- pulmonary fibrosis
- congestive heart failure
- pulmonary hypertension
- occupational lung disease
- diffuse interstitial lung disease
The oxygen of home therapy may be ingested by way of nasal prongs, a mask or a breathing tube.
The common ways oxygen is made available for home oxygen therapy is home delivery in the form of a compressed gas or as a liquid. Or the use of an oxygen concentrator, which is a device that separates the oxygen out of the air.
Another form of oxygen treatment is hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy uses a pressurized chamber to increase the volume of oxygen in your blood. Use of the chamber involves breathing pure oxygen in an environment that is 1-3 times normal atmospheric pressure.
The substantially increased air pressure utilized with hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases the amount of oxygen carried in your blood. This higher concentration of circulating oxygen means more is available for your organs and tissues. This aspect is especially effective for healing wounds quickly.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is being used to treat:
- skin grafts
- severe burns
- gas gangrene
- embolism ~ air, gas
- decompression sickness
- severely infected wounds
- carbon monoxide poisoning
- necrotizing soft tissue infection
- certain brain, sinus, skin infections
- skin ulcers due to diabetes, poor circulation
- clostridial myonecrosis ~ bacterial infection that invades muscle
- osteoradionecrosis ~ bone damage caused by radiation cancer treatment
After a hyperbaric oxygen therapy session, you’ll likely feel lightheaded and tired.
Studies are being conducted to discover if hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be helpful for other health conditions, such as:
At this time, there is no evidence supporting hyperbaric oxygen therapy for:
- destroying germs
- improving allergy symptoms
- curing cancer or stopping its growth
- alleviating chronic fatigue syndrome
Nor has it yet been confirmed to be helpful for those suffering from:
- Lyme disease
- cerebral palsy
- sports injuries
- multiple sclerosis
- gastrointestinal ulcers
The use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy is an emerging form of treatment, time will reveal its full oxygen potential.
Mechanical ventilation is a method for delivering oxygen when you can’t breath on your own. Generally used in a hospital setting, a machine does the work for you and oxygen is provided through a tube that’s inserted into your trachea. A couple of examples of health conditions that can cause voluntary breathing problems for which this life support measure may need to be administered are:
- cardiac arrest
- spinal cord injury
- respiratory failure
- alcohol poisoning
- severe heart disease
- multiorgan system failure
- general anesthesia for surgical procedures
- neurological disorders that prevent normal breathing
Some of the causes for respiratory failure where mechanical ventilation might be utilized include:
- chronic bronchitis
- acute asthma attack
- acute respiratory distress syndrome
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- severe viral infections ~ West Nile virus, influenza
Most often, mechanical ventilation is only necessary for a few days. Unfortunately, some will need mechanical ventilation for the rest of their lives.
Finally, oxygen therapy used to improve your performance during sporting events is only helpful if the oxygen is consumed while you’re actually engaged in the movement.