Oxygen Therapy For COPD

Oxygen therapy for COPD can be incredibly beneficial for some but not all.

When it comes to the use of oxygen therapy for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) it can be a mixed bag.

Although supplemental oxygen tanks are vital and universally recommended by pulmonologists and physicians alike, in truth they only recommend this form of treatment for those who are experiencing severe COPD.

For those who are living with mild to moderate COPD, the use of oxygen therapy may be a bit ineffective.

The use of oxygen therapy can in many ways be a godsend to those who live with severe COPD as it delivers the exact element that their body is missing: oxygen.

The use of supplemental oxygen can have its upsides and downsides, ranging from the peace of mind of being able to breathe in the category of pros, to the anxiety and difficulty that come with lugging around an oxygen tank on the side of cons.

With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to give you a comprehensive overview of oxygen therapy for COPD and explore the history of the use of supplemental oxygen, it’s place in treatment today and a few tips on how to make it work for you and your health plan.

Brief History of Supplemental O2 Tanks

As we’ve touched on previously, the supplemental oxygen tank has had a long and evolving history.

First discovered in 1772, it has been in use within the field of medicine for more than 200 years. Oxygen therapy helps treat various respiratory illnesses from pneumonia to COPD. Over the years, the “tank” itself has evolved greatly, increasing its mobility and portability with every successive decade.

With supplemental oxygen’s first recorded use in 1885, where it was used to treat pneumonia, using it to deliver oxygen to those deprived of it has been its primary application.

From use in WWI and WWII, today supplemental oxygen tanks have been developed specifically to meet the needs of those with COPD and other respiratory conditions.

Today, patients who are prescribed oxygen therapy for COPD and other pulmonary conditions have the choice between the use of traditional oxygen tanks and portable oxygen concentrators. 

Portable oxygen concentrators draw oxygen from the surrounding area and purify it before returning it the patient.

Treatment Today and Recommended Use

Oxygen therapy as a method of treatment can come with a variety of benefits. For starters, it can serve as an immediate relief for those with shortness of breath and general respiratory issues.

Secondly, the peace of mind that comes with knowing there is a method of clear breathing available at your fingertips cannot be understated.

However, in the treatment of COPD and other lung diseases, the use of supplemental oxygen can form a slippery slope.

And as we’ve mentioned before, supplemental oxygen is typically prescribed by doctors for those with severe COPD. When used by those who do not have severe COPD, the effects are minimal.

Firstly, the treatment method itself can leave the user literally tethered to the tank. The tanks may ultimately foster dependency and reduced mobility as a result. On top of that, the primary application of the oxygen tank is to relieve the symptom of breathlessness.

However, it cannot address the disease itself, only the symptom of shortness of breath. In this sense, oxygen therapy is not a cure but a relief of symptoms.

Tips and Tricks to Using a Supplemental Oxygen Tank

Here is a list of general rules and tips to understand and follow when using an oxygen tank.

  • Keep your oxygen cannulas and tank away from an open flame.
  • Generally, keep your oxygen tank away from areas of high heat (the oven or stove)
  • Avoid accidents of tripping by storing your tanks by visible corners or walls
  • Avoid running out of oxygen by keeping your inventory renewed
  • To avoid nose bleeds, try to keep your cannulas moist
  • Keep your device’s equipment clean.

Looking Beyond Oxygen Therapy for COPD Towards What’s Next

COPD isn’t an illness that’s easy to live with. It’s draining, frustrating and downright disheartening when feeling as if your quality of life is slowly slipping away from you.

However, change may be possible through treatment with your doctors.

With a few behavioral changes, it’s possible to greatly affect the pronouncement of symptoms within those with chronic lung disease.

Always consult with your doctor on a treatment plan that is right for you.