A Closer Look at How Oxygen Therapy Treats COPD

A Closer Look at How Oxygen Therapy Treats COPD

You’ve been diagnosed with COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Perhaps it stems from smoking, emphysema, or asthma. Maybe you worked with chemicals or have been exposed to toxic fumes. 

Whatever the cause, you’ve had a number of the symptoms for some time. Your airways may be swollen or irritated, or you may produce too much mucus. It’s hard to breathe, and your chest feels tight. Shortness of breath and other complications have restricted your normal activity level, and you’re missing out on things you used to enjoy.

Board-certified family physician Dr. Pompeyo C. Chavez offers expert personalized health care in Bastrop, Texas, for you and your family. If you have COPD, Dr. Chavez works with you to prevent flare-ups and relieve your symptoms. If other treatments haven’t given you the relief you need, Dr. Chavez may recommend supplemental oxygen therapy

Why you need oxygen therapy

You need a 95%-100% oxygen saturation level, or O2sat, to function normally. If your level falls below this, the cells in your body aren’t getting the life-saving oxygen they need. Your organs need oxygen to survive — including your brain. Brain cells die in only five minutes when they’re deprived of oxygen.

COPD affects your lungs and airways, making it difficult for you to breathe and for your body to get enough oxygen. At some point, your body can’t compensate any longer for the lack of enough oxygen, and your condition gets worse. 

The goal of oxygen therapy is to help you breathe easier and get more oxygen into your body — giving you a better quality of life and relief from your symptoms. It may very well prolong your life. 

How oxygen therapy works 

Your oxygen therapy is likely to be long-term. Some individuals may need oxygen up to 15 hours per day. Dr. Chavez advises you on how often and when you need to use oxygen therapy to address your COPD symptoms.

You’re fitted with a nasal cannula — a tube attached to an oxygen tank that has two small tubes on the end that fit in your nostrils. Each tank delivers pure oxygen, and Dr. Chavez sets the flow rate.

You can get larger tanks that you keep for use at home. When you’re active, you can either carry a smaller tank or wheel it around. 

Traveling with oxygen support

When you want to travel, you can get a device called a portable oxygen concentrator (POC) that converts air around you into the pure oxygen you need. It’s battery-operated and can last up to 12 hours. You can also plug the POC into regular outlets, including your car.

If your trip involves air travel, you’ll need to be sure your POC is approved by the Federal Aviation Administration and also by the airline. With modern technology available for COPD patients, your world doesn’t have to get smaller. 

There’s no cure for COPD, but treatments are available to help you manage the condition and improve your quality of life. Call Pompeyo C. Chavez, MD, or book an appointment online today for outstanding personalized health care.

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