Oxygen Therapy

Oxygen Therapy- A Life Saving Medical Intervention


Oxygen therapy, also known as supplemental oxygen therapy or O2 therapy, refers to the medical use of oxygen as a drug to treat hypoxemia or low oxygen levels in the blood and tissues. Hypoxemia can occur due to various respiratory diseases, chest injuries, drowning and other medical conditions where oxygen intake is compromised or inadequate. In such circumstances, oxygen therapy helps deliver supplemental oxygen to fulfil the body’s needs and associated medical benefits.

Methods of Oxygen Delivery

There are different methods for delivering supplemental oxygen to patients:

Nasal Cannula: One of the most common methods used is via nasal cannula, a small prong that sits below the nose and provides a flow of oxygen through small tubes placed within the nostrils. This delivers 1-6 litres of oxygen per minute. Nasal cannula oxygen therapy is usually sufficient for most mild to moderate hypoxemic conditions.

Oxygen Mask: For individuals needing a higher concentration of oxygen, an oxygen mask is used. An oxygen mask fits over the nose and mouth to increase the percentage of inhaled oxygen. Precision oxygen masks deliver 24-60% oxygen concentrations while non-rebreather masks deliver 60-100% oxygen concentrations.

Oxygen Tent: For infants and small children, an oxygen tent or canopy may be used. This flexible, clear plastic enclosure is placed over the head or entire body to contain and circulate oxygen-enriched air around the patient.

Home Oxygen Therapy: For chronic conditions requiring long term supplemental oxygen, portable oxygen cylinders or oxygen concentrators can be used at home. Concentrators filter room air to increase its oxygen content while cylinders hold pressurized liquid oxygen that is turned into gas. These portable oxygen delivery systems allow mobility and independence for individuals dependent on oxygen.

Conditions Benefitting from Oxygen Therapy

Some common indications for supplemental Oxygen Therapy include:

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): Oxygen therapy helps treat hypoxemia seen in patients with emphysema and chronic bronchitis, two main types of COPD. It reduces symptoms, lessens strain on the heart and improves survival rates.

Pneumonia: As pneumonia causes inflammation in the lungs, oxygen levels in blood may decrease requiring temporary oxygen therapy until respiratory recovery.

Chest Injuries and Lung Diseases: Rib fractures, lung contusions or other chest traumas impacting breathing often receive oxygen supplementation. Conditions like pulmonary fibrosis or lung cancer can also lead to hypoxemia necessitating oxygen therapy.

Heart Diseases: Certain heart problems like congestive heart failure put added workload on the heart as hypoxemia develops. Oxygen therapy aids in decreasing this extra burden and relieving dyspnea or breathlessness.

Post-surgery Recovery: Patients undergoing lung or heart surgery are given supplemental oxygen during the post-operative period to help heal tissues and compensate blood oxygen levels affected during procedures under general anesthesia with ventilator support.

Drowning or Near Drowning: Oxygen therapy is lifesaving in reviving victims suffering from hypoxemia due to near drowning or submersion incidents where breathing was disrupted.

Sleep Disorders: Sleep apnea, a condition where breathing periodically stops during sleep, causes intermittent nocturnal hypoxemia requiring continuous positive airway pressure therapy or oxygen supplementation.

Benefits of Oxygen Therapy

Oxygen therapy delivers major healthcare benefits for conditions where hypoxemia poses risks. Some key advantages include:

– Improves oxygen saturation levels in blood and restores oxygen supply to tissues and organs depending on aerobic metabolism. This decreases physiological strain and symptoms.

– Lessens workload and stress on the heart which has to work harder to pump deoxygenated blood in hypoxemic states. This reduces risks of heart failure, stroke or cardiac arrest.

– Ameliorates symptoms like coughing, shortness of breath and fatigue associated with low oxygen conditions. Better symptom control enhances quality of life.

– Prevents complications and diseases progression. Maintaining adequate oxygen levels arrests worsening of underlying lung diseases, stops complications in healing wounds or suppresses multiplying effects of certain heart and lung infections.

– Extends lifespan by reducing mortality, especially in chronic lung diseases. Oxygen therapy decreases 5-year mortality rates compared to non-supplemental oxygen therapy groups.

– Enables mobility and daily functions with portable oxygen delivery systems. Home oxygen facilitates active lifestyles and independence.

Thus, supplemental oxygen therapy represents a major medical advancement saving lives and improving clinical outcomes across a spectrum of hypoxemic illnesses. Further research also underscores its cost-effective benefits over the long run. When administered judiciously under medical guidance matching patient needs, oxygen therapy stands as one of the most life-sustaining interventions in modern healthcare.

1.  Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it