Need Supplementary Oxygen?

When breathing becomes more difficult your doctor may discuss the possibility of prescribing oxygen therapy. If you and your doctor are thinking about incorporating oxygen therapy into your daily routine, read on for tips and helpful information to better educate you on this topic.

What is Oxygen Therapy?

Oxygen therapy treatment provides you with extra oxygen when your lungs can’t absorb enough oxygen from the air.

The supplemental oxygen will normally flow from the oxygen device (see descriptions below) through tubing to an interface, such as a nasal cannula or mask, which allows you to breathe the oxygen into your lungs

  1. Compressed Oxygen: Oxygen gas is compressed and stored in various size metal cylinders that can be transported in a small cart or a bag that you carry.
  2. Concentrated Oxygen: Oxygen concentrators are machines that draw in air from the room and then separate the oxygen from the nitrogen and other gases. The oxygen is concentrated in a small storage tank inside the machine and then made available for use. This type of system produces a steady supply of oxygen and does not require refilling or deliveries. Oxygen concentrators are the main way that oxygen is made available to people in their homes.

Which ​Conditions ​​May ​Benefit from Oxygen Therapy?

There are some ​conditions and disorders that may progress to a level that the lungs are not able to effectively absorb enough oxygen from the air. If this happens, the amount of oxygen in the blood falls below the normal level. This condition is called “hypoxemia.” If your blood oxygen level falls too low you may feel short of breath, especially when you are active. As a result your doctor may prescribe oxygen therapy to return the oxygen level in your blood back to a normal range. If you have a low oxygen level, home oxygen therapy may help you regain your mobility and breathe better. Here are five conditions and diseases that may require oxygen therapy to help you feel better and breathe easier:

Chronic Bronchitis

This refers to chronic inflammation and swelling of the inside of the airways and is one of the diseases considered a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD. Chronic bronchitis can lead to narrowing and obstruction of the airways and is generally associated with increased mucus and a daily cough. Chronic bronchitis is often caused by smoking or other pollutants. If the disease has progressed and is causing hypoxemia, home oxygen therapy may help you get your independence back by allowing you to be mobile again.


Emphysema is a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) caused by damage to the alveoli, the tiny air sacs in the lung where exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place. Smoking is the primary cause of emphysema. As emphysema progresses and larger portions of the lung develop damaged air sacks, the lungs often become unable to deliver enough oxygen to the blood to keep it within the normal range and hypoxemia occurs. Here too home oxygen therapy may help you regain your mobility.

Lung Cancer

When you have lung cancer, the abnormal cells may form a tumor in or around the lung tissue, which can interfere with your lung function, making it harder to breathe and potentially lowering the oxygen level in the blood (hypoxemia). Home oxygen therapy may help improve the low oxygen levels and make breathing more comfortable.

Pulmonary Fibrosis

Pulmonary fibrosis is a disease marked by scarring in the lungs. Tissue deep in the lungs becomes thick, stiff and scarred. The scarring is called fibrosis. As the lung tissue becomes scarred, it interferes with a person’s ability to breathe and lowers the level of oxygen in the blood (hypoxemia). Home oxygen therapy may be used to help those with pulmonary fibrosis improve their blood oxygen levels and be more physically active.

Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disease that affects glands that secrete, including the ones that produce sweat and mucus. Cystic fibrosis causes the lungs to produce thick mucus that can block the airways and allow bacteria to grow. If hypoxemia develops, oxygen therapy can help improve blood oxygen levels and may make breathing more comfortable. Other diseases and conditions that may progress and require oxygen therapy include:

  • Alpha 1 Antitrypsin Deficiency
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Black lung (pneumoconiosis)
  • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia

What Are The Benefits of Oxygen Therapy?

There are many benefits you can receive from oxygen therapy that can help make your life easier. They include:

  • Improvements in Overall Health: You may immediately start to feel less shortness of breath. With long-term use of at least 15-hours per day your organs may become healthier, which could further add to your well being.
  • Better Sleep: Getting more oxygen while you sleep can help prevent you waking up with a headache and/or feeling tired all day
  • Staying Active: Oxygen therapy helps give your body more of the oxygen it needs. With portable oxygen you may be able to enjoy more activities such as traveling, golfing and walking for longer amounts of time
  • Improve Mental Function: Although an immediate improvement in mental performance has not been shown, continuing oxygen therapy does improve thinking and memory Stress levels may also decrease

Is Oxygen Therapy Addictive?

Oxygen is essential for life, so it can be said that we are all addicted. Supplemental oxygen simply returns the body’s oxygen level to normal. Stopping the use of supplemental oxygen does not cause any withdrawal symptoms, other than the possible return of the symptoms that lead to the oxygen being prescribed in the first place.

What Types of Oxygen Therapy Are There?

There are several different types of oxygen therapy that ​may be suitable to your needs, below. 

  • Oxygen ConcentratorThis is a machine that concentrates oxygen from room air to give you more oxygen and help you breathe. Backup oxygen, like compressed oxygen tanks, need to be kept on hand in case of a power outage. When you leave your house, you’ll use portable oxygen cylinders.
  • Portable OxygenFor ​those who ​wish to maintain their mobility and continue enjoying social activities, a portable oxygen system which may be cylinders or a portable concentrator may be the solution. 
    • Portable Oxygen Concentrator​: Weighing as little as six pounds, a portable oxygen concentrator can be plugged in to normal wall electricity, run on internal batteries or plug into a car lighter for use on-the-go. These come in continuous flow or pulse dose models to meet your needs.
    • Compressed Oxygen Cylinders: Your oxygen tanks supplied to your home. These cylinders need to used with are regulator or Conserving device and need to be refilled on a regular basis dependent on usage.
    • Oxygen Conservation Devices: These are devices that are ​used with Compressed Oxygen Cylinders ​and are designed to supply a ​pulse of oxygen only when you are breathing in​ ​making your portable oxygen supply last longer. ​