Having a chronic lung condition like COPD can leave you wanting to understand the importance of getting enough oxygen. At first, you may have been wondering why your doctor has prescribed you with oxygen, and why most people with COPD need it regularly. Patients who are found to have very low oxygen in the blood need oxygen therapy, and depending on oxygen levels while active or at rest, your doctor will determine how many hours a day you will need to be on oxygen therapy. Some patients may only need oxygen while doing physical activities, while some may need it almost the entire 24 hours.
So why do you need to follow your doctor’s prescription for oxygen? Why is it important to get the right amount of oxygen? Though not all COPD patients need oxygen therapy, majority of patients in the later stages do need it. Getting enough oxygen can help you be better able to do your daily chores and other physical activities. It can also help reduce difficulty in breathing, along with reducing the strain on your heart caused by low oxygen levels. Getting adequate oxygen can also help you be able to sleep better and feel better throughout the day.
Aside from the above reasons, read on to find out why getting enough oxygen is important.
Adequate oxygen helps prevent hypoxemia and hypoxia
All of the body’s tissues and organs need oxygen to function properly. Hypoxemia, or a low level of oxygen in the blood, causes a lack of oxygen in various organs. This low oxygen level in body tissues is called hypoxia, which occurs when the blood carries inadequate oxygen to tissues and organs during circulation. Mere minutes of insufficient oxygen can lead to tissue and organ damage, especially to critical organs like the brain, heart and liver.
Hypoxia can manifest as various signs and symptoms, like having shortness of breath, a very rapid heart rate, very fast breathing, coughing, sweating, and changes in skin color, such as having bluish or purplish skin.
Hypoxia and hypoxemia can readily be treated with adequate amounts of oxygen. To prevent such conditions, its best to follow your treatment plan, do your best to prevent flare-ups, and get sufficient amounts of oxygen as advised by your doctor. It’s also good to stay physically active and be on a nutritious diet.
Adequate oxygen helps prevent complications and progressive organ damage
When your body cannot provide enough oxygen, many of your tissues and organs start deteriorating. This leads to a number of complications that can severely make your condition more difficult to manage. Some of these complications are progressive pulmonary hypertension, cor pulmonale (a type of heart failure), and secondary polycythemia. Other conditions also include heart problems like arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats, and possible ischemia, or a lack of oxygen supply to the heart. Experts have found that adequate oxygen therapy can help reduce the risk for such complications by stabilizing oxygen levels throughout the body. This leads to reduced chances of pulmonary hypertension, heart failure, and other complications.
Adequate oxygen prolongs survival
Studies have found that COPD patients on long-term oxygen therapy had higher chances of prolonged survival. This is, by far, one of the most important reasons why you have to comply to your doctor’s orders of getting adequate oxygen therapy. Not getting enough oxygen, or voluntarily under-dosing the amount of oxygen you get, can decrease its effectiveness and limit the benefits it can offer. Thus, if you are having problems complying to the right dose of oxygen, or having trouble receiving oxygen throughout the day or when going out of the house, its best to discuss alternative ways to receive adequate amounts of oxygen with your doctor or health care provider.
All in all, getting enough oxygen has been found to reduce the severity of COPD symptoms, prevent complications, reduces hospitalization, and ultimately improves a patient’s quality of life. Having enough oxygen ensures that every organ in your body gets the right amount of oxygen it needs to function at its best.
Do you think you are getting the right amount of oxygen? If not, it’s best to talk to your health care provider about this. If you have any helpful advice, comments or suggestions about getting enough oxygen, share it with us in the comments below!