Oxygen therapy increases the amount of oxygen in the lungs
and the bloodstream. You may need oxygen therapy if there are signs that the
cells of your body are not getting enough oxygen.
You may use
oxygen therapy at home or in the hospital if you have low oxygen levels in your
blood because of
pneumonia, lung cancer, COPD, ARDS, or other conditions. You can choose between a number of delivery
systems and breathing devices.
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Concentrators, which take oxygen from the air.
These machines are electrically powered and fairly heavy [about
30 lb (13.6 kg)]. Portable
concentrators, which you can use when you travel, are also available.
Concentrators are often less expensive than other delivery systems.
Cylinders of oxygen. They come in several sizes. The largest are
too heavy to move around. Smaller cylinders can be carried and provide about 5
hours of oxygen. Cylinders cost more than concentrators but less than liquid
Cylinders of liquid oxygen. Compared to cylinders of
oxygen, liquid oxygen cylinders contain more oxygen, weigh less, and are easier
to use. But they cost the most.
You can breathe your oxygen through a face mask or a
flexible plastic tube inserted in your nostrils (nasal cannula).
The nasal cannula gives you the greatest freedom
for moving around and talking. The amount of oxygen you actually breathe may be
less than with other methods of delivery.
A face mask is less portable and gets in the way of talking and
Choose your oxygen delivery system based on your ability to
move around. People who are homebound may find an oxygen concentrator gives
them the best combination of convenience and cost.
In all oxygen
delivery systems, the risk of fire or explosion is high if you use oxygen
around lit cigarettes or an open flame. If you or those who care for you smoke,
oxygen therapy may not be a good option.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
March 06, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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