Oxygen is an essential element for living beings. The air we breathe, the water we drink, and it is all used in the respiration process. In chemistry, oxygen is a part of the chalcogen group in the periodic table of elements, wherein it is a highly reactive nonmetal, and also an oxidizing agent that forms oxides with most elements and also compounds. Oxygen is the most abundant element here on earth that makes up around 21% of the earth’s atmosphere. Oxygen is almost present everywhere, in water, in plants and animals, and in solid organic materials here on earth. But, oxygen is also used in the medical field to treat people with breathing complications. In this article, we’ll be talking about oxygen used as a treatment in the medical field. Also, we’ll give insight into the indications, pros and cons, and guidelines in oxygen therapy.
What is Oxygen Therapy?
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, that in medicine, oxygen therapy, or supplemental oxygen is a type of treatment that delivers oxygen to your body for you to breathe. It is done by receiving oxygen from tubes in your nose, a face mask, or a tube placed in your trachea. This type of treatment increases the oxygen levels your lungs receive and deliver it to your blood. Having low blood oxygen can make you feel tired, have shortness of breath, and can damage your body organs. Oxygen therapy treatment is only available through a prescription from your doctor or healthcare provider. You may get treatment in hospitals, or you may receive it at your home. Some people only need it for a short period, but other people may need long-term therapy or even a lifetime of life support.
Devices like tanks, liquid or gas oxygen are used that can give you oxygen. Some people use an oxygen concentrator, which takes in air and removes nitrogen so it can produce oxygen. There are portable oxygen concentrators, which are usually used in homes, for home treatment. These are easier to use and you can move around easily while having your oxygen therapy.
According to Weekley et al., the most accepted indication for oxygen therapy treatment is hypoxemia or having decreased levels of oxygen in the blood. They also stated that a healthy patient has around 92 to 98% oxygen saturation targets, but for patients with chronic hypercapnic conditions, target oxygen saturations are commonly between 88 to 92%, which need oxygen administration below these levels. They also said that these oxygen saturation levels are often measured with pulse oximetry, a method to measure the oxygen level of the blood. On the downside, a pulse oximeter can give a false reading in much more serious cases such as anemia, cyanide, or carbon monoxide poisoning.
Here are some indications that a patient may need oxygen therapy treatment.
- COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a disease that causes blocked airflow from the lungs.
- Cystic fibrosis, a hereditary disease that affects the lungs and the pancreas.
- Pulmonary fibrosis, a lung disease that occurs when lung tissues and damaged and scarred.
- Sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease that occurs mostly in the lungs and lymph nodes.
Medical emergencies that require high concentrations:
- Shock, wherein the body does not get enough blood flow that causes organs to be damaged.
- Sepsis, occurs when a chemical imbalance happens in the bloodstream that damages organs.
- Major trauma, an injury that causes prolonged disability, or even death.
- Cardiac arrest, a sudden loss of blood that results in the heart unable to pump effectively.
- Anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction that is life-threatening.
- Carbon Monoxide and cyanide poisonings, that affects the utilization of oxygen, leading to hypoxia.
- Transfusion-related acute lung injury, respiratory distress following transfusion that leads to hypoxia, or even death.
Medical emergencies which may or may not require oxygen saturation and administration:
- Asthma, a condition wherein airways are narrow and may produce mucus, making it difficult to breathe.
- Bronchitis, an inflammation in the bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from your lungs.
- Heart failure, occurs when the heart doesn’t pump blood well.
- Pulmonary embolism, a blood clot that occurs in the lungs, results in decreased oxygen levels in the blood.
Pros and Cons of Oxygen therapy
Oxygen is essential for us humans, we cannot live with oxygen because it is the air we breathe in and breathe out. However, in serious cases, oxygen in the air can’t provide as much we need in a life-threatening situation. The upsides of having oxygen therapy are that it is significant for people that have a severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to relieve the symptoms of shortness of oxygen in the body for it to function properly. On the other hand, the downsides of this are having a mild respiratory disease that doesn’t have any distress in your body, won’t have a significant effect. Plus, the difficulty of having a large and bulky oxygen tank together with you is another disadvantage.
Here are guidelines to understand and follow when working with an oxygen tank.
- Store your oxygen tanks in areas without high heat, such as stoves, ovens, and open flames.
- Constantly keep your equipment clean and most to prevent nose bleeds.
- If you don’t want the burden of having a large tank, you may use POCs (Portable Oxygen Concentrators).
Having an oxygen tank with you is difficult. It is difficult when you’re faced with inevitable diseases. Oxygen therapy is only essential for patients with severe respiratory diseases, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have oxygen therapy when you have mild symptoms. The best way to cure and prevent respiratory diseases is still consulting with a health professional. If you’re struggling with big and bulky oxygen tanks, you should consider having a portable oxygen concentrator, but you should always consult with a professional medical person. Hoping that this article gave you an insight into what oxygen therapy is, how it works, the indications, and guidelines.