Oxygen Therapy 101: What You Need to know about Treating Asthma

We may know a person or two who has asthma, and that’s because asthma affects people of any age, although it usually begins during childhood. Furthermore, about 25 million people in the United States have asthma, and 7 million of them are children.

This chronic lung condition, which is characterized by recurring wheezing periods, shortness of breath, coughing, and chest tightness, can be treated and prevented in numerous ways. However, it is important to initially understand how the disease works.

Asthma in a nutshell

The lungs are composed of tiny airways or tubes that allow air in and out of the organ. However, people with asthma have sore and swollen airways, making them more sensitive, especially to triggers to allergies or irritating substances. The airways react by getting narrower, resulting to your lungs getting less air. This causes asthma symptoms to surface. When such symptoms start getting worse than usual, an asthma attack occurs, which can be fatal for the patient when emergency care is not delivered right away.

Although there is no total cure for asthma, it is easily manageable once a proper diagnosis and treatment plan is prepared, giving the patient an improved quality of life. Generally, asthma can be treated with either quick-relief medicines to relieve asthma symptomsand long-term control medicines to keep symptoms at bay. One of the treatments that effectively alleviate symptoms is oxygen therapy.

Candidates for oxygen therapy

Oxygen therapy is a treatment where supplemental oxygen is administered to patients who are not able to get enough naturally, which may be due to breathing conditions. Usually, patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are required to undergo long-term oxygen therapy, but even people with asthma can benefit from this treatment as well.   

Before delivering this kind of treatment, doctors need to first identify if the patient is a candidate for oxygen therapy by measuring the amount of oxygen in their arterial blood with the help of a medical O2 sensor. Normally, a person’s arterial blood oxygen falls between 75 and 100 mmHg. When O2 sensors detect a reading of 60mmHg or lower, the patient is likely to be in need of supplemental oxygen. However, too much oxygen can also be dangerous to the lungs and may damage one’s cells, which is why doctors make sure that the oxygen levels do not go beyond 110 mmHg.

How oxygen therapy works

While nebulizers allow airways to open up during asthma attacks, oxygen therapy is also an effective intervention for patients with asthma, especially when their condition has become life-threatening. The therapy works by delivering oxygen gas into the airways for the individual to breathe. This is done through the use of tubes that may either rest in the nose or be connected to a face mask. The tube may also be placed in the trachea or windpipe.

With supplemental oxygen delivered into the lungs, the amount of oxygen in the blood increases, which can be measured through the O2 finger sensor. Since there is enough oxygen in the blood, asthma symptoms such as shortness of breath, tiredness, and even confusion are then relieved.

Delivering oxygen therapy

Oxygen therapy may be given for either short or long periods of time, whether it is in the hospital or at home, through oxygen concentrators or cylinders. For patients receiving oxygen therapy at home, the use of oxygen concentrators may be more convenient for usage as there are a wide range of portable oxygen concentrators available in the market. Keeping your own oxygen concentrator at home spares you more time and energy than traveling to the hospital to get the treatment that you need, keeping you more active and confident while receiving therapy.

Before acquiring your own device, there are certain things that you have to consider, such as oxygen delivery, compactness, battery life, and warranty. Always make sure that you are purchasing from a trusted and renowned source. More importantly, keep in mind that oxygen easily catches fire, which is why safety precautions should be implemented when keeping an oxygen concentrator at home.

Asthma should not hinder one from living the quality of life that everyone deserves. Good thing there are more ways to better keep asthma symptoms under control, resulting to a healthier and happier day-to-day living.

Photo by havens.michael34