Do You Need Oxygen Therapy?

If you have a chronic lung disease, you might need additional oxygen to help you breathe easier. Here is what you need to know

oxygen therapy

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can make it difficult for the body to get enough oxygen. Oxygen therapy can provide you, or someone you love, with supplemental or extra oxygen and help you feel better and stay active. It may help alleviate symptoms such as fatigue. 

To determine whether you need oxygen therapy, your doctor may ask for a couple of tests — specifically, an arterial blood gases test and a pulse oximetry test. Both measure the amount of oxygen in the blood. Based on these tests, he will determine whether you meet the requirements to receive a prescription for oxygen therapy. It could be initiated during a hospital stay. Here are some things you should know about oxygen therapy. 

What to discuss with your doctor
Explain to your doctor what your needs and lifestyle are and how you expect oxygen therapy to complement these things. Also, express any concerns you have about using oxygen.

How timing plays a role
A lung infection or exacerbation can cause oxygen levels to decline. If you start oxygen therapy for one of these conditions while you’re hospitalized, ask your doctor to review whether you still need oxygen therapy one to three months later. It is possible that you will not need long-term oxygen therapy.

The equipment 
Oxygen therapy can be administered at home with several types of devices, such as oxygen concentrators, a liquid system or compressed oxygen. The oxygen is delivered through nasal prongs or a face mask. In addition, most oxygen equipment can attach to other medical devices you might use, such as CPAP machines or ventilators.

Once you’re set up
Learn how to use oxygen safely and how to measure your oxygen levels at home. Also, make sure your doctor provides you with a certificate of medical necessity. It should state that you need supplemental oxygen as well as the exact type and amount of oxygen you need.