Oxygen therapy is needed when a person is unable to breathe enough oxygen naturally. The need for oxygen care generally occurs due to lung diseases like asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, pulmonary fibrosis, or even lung cancer. Typically, a pulse oximeter is used to measure the oxygen level in your bloodstream.

When to get oxygen care supplies?

To determine whether a person needs respiratory care, a doctor measures the amount of oxygen in a patient's arterial blood. The standard rate of oxygen in arterial blood in a person's body is 75-100 mmHg, and anything lower than this calls for immediate oxygen supply. Based on this, a doctor prescribes the amount of oxygen they need per minute.

Is arterial blood always required to check the oxygen rate?

No, the rate of oxygen in a body can be measured without a blood sample. The pulse oximeter is a lightweight non-invasive, and painless device that measures the oxygen saturation level in blood. It can be attached to any of the body parts like the finger, toes, or earlobe. The device makes light pass through the transparent region of the skin to detect the amount of oxygen in the blood.

What are the types of oxygen supplies available in the market?

Oxygen care supplies generally are of three possible types:

• A compressed gas system which is usually pre-filled oxygen tanks or can be filled at home with an oxygen concentrator.

• Liquid oxygen systems, which are small refillable tanks and an oxygen reservoir, are required.

• A portable oxygen concentrator runs on electricity or battery and can be worn in a shoulder bag or even wheeled. They require no tanks or filling.

Is it possible to purchase an oxygen supply without a doctor?

To purchase an oxygen concentrator a doctor's prescription is mandatory, stating the level of oxygen needed. Prescription rules are made by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure that the patient is provided with the right concentration of oxygen required because two people with respiratory problems do not require the same level of oxygen.

Who needs oxygen care supply at night while sleeping?

The average oxygen level while awake ranges from 90-100 mmHg. During sleep, when oxygen saturation drops below 88, there is a need for oxygen supply. Some common symptoms include rapid breathing, restlessness, increased blood pressure, waking up gasping for air and snoring during sleep. However, a self-judgment of symptoms and opting for oxygen care is not recommended; it should be prescribed by a doctor.

Oxygen supply accessories and how to use them

Several other types of equipment come along with the oxygen supply for proper usage:

• A nasal catheter or nasal cannula is the most common delivery accessory to increase airflow. It is a long tubing that makes a channel from the equipment to the nose.

• Oxygen masks are needed for patients with a higher need for oxygen supply.

• Portable or Ambulatory oxygen is carried in backpacks or sling bags. Oxygen cylinders are sometimes placed in cylinder-carts when not traveling.

What are the benefits of Oxygen Care?

Supplementary oxygen maintains normal body function in people with severe lung diseases and helps reduce heart failure. Other than this, Oxygen care has other benefits, too:

• Hypoxemia or low oxygen levels in blood and body tissue reduces a person's life span. Increased oxygen supply increases the survival rate.

• Respiratory care reduces Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other diseases related to COPD complications.

• Oxygen supply improves immunity and increases stamina. It helps us get better sleep and increases mental alertness. It helps to reduce shortness in breath during exercise, eventually making us more active.

• Several people, with or without hypoxemia, may face breathing issues while traveling by air. Now, it has become easily permissible to go with an oxygen concentrator in flights.

What are the possible side effects of Oxygen Care Supply?

Oxygen care tends to give some minor side effects because of the increased supply of oxygen like a dry or bloody nose, irritated skin around the cannula or mask, a little amount of drowsiness, and morning headache. However, these problems can be solved by proper maintenance of the equipment or by changing attachments, using a humidifier or nasal spray.

Dry nose while using oxygen care and what to do

Oxygen is a dry gas, and continuous inhaling can make the nose dry or sore or cause bleeding. Natural oxygen is humid as it contains water vapor. For supplementary oxygen, a humidifier is used to moisten the air from the concentrator. A humidifier bottle is filled with distilled water and attached to the equipment by a humidifier adaptor.

Can we become oxygen care-dependent?

It is not possible to be dependent or habituated to an oxygen supply, because it is a prerequisite for life, and everybody needs it to survive. However, a person under oxygen care may get headaches or feel dizzy, which indicates overuse.

How to care for the oxygen care supply equipment?

Oxygen Care supplies come with detailed instructions to maintain the equipment:

• The nasal cannula is suggested to be changed every week.

• The tubing attached to the static equipment needs to be changed monthly.

• Neither the cannula nor the tubing should be washed.

• If an oxygen mask is being used, it should be washed twice weekly with warm water.

• If a humidifier is being used, it should be emptied once a day and cleaned with soap and warm water.

• Tap water should not be used in a humidifier as it has minerals and can damage the equipment.

Oxygen care supply safety

It is vital to learn the methods and procedures for safely using oxygen care supply. Here are some useful tips:

• Make sure you have enough supply and do not run out of oxygen. If using it for a severe medical issue, the absence of it may cause severe damage, even death.

• Oxygen itself doesn't burn; however, it supports combustion. Any flammable object will burn faster in an oxygenated environment. The highest safe temperature of an oxygen tank is 125 degrees Fahrenheit, and anything higher than this can be dangerous.

• If frost appears on the surface of an oxygen tank, do not let it come in contact with your skin; it may cause frostbite injury.

• Oxygen canisters should be stored in an upright position in proper storage space.

Long term oxygen care supply is hugely beneficial for a variety of chronic lung diseases. Though it comes with some side effects, however, with possible precautions and the right guidance of a doctor, respiratory care is a beneficial choice.