If you have a health condition that makes it difficult for you to get enough oxygen on your own, your doctor may recommend oxygen therapy. Oxygen therapy is an artificial way to enable you to get adequate oxygen levels in your blood and increase your energy levels, sleep, and quality of life. Examples of conditions that warrant oxygen therapy include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, asthma, heart failure, cystic fibrosis, and others that prevent your lungs from absorbing oxygen.
Doctors perform an arterial blood test to determine if oxygen therapy will be suitable. They can also use a pulse ox, which is a less invasive method of checking blood levels. An oxygen level of 60 mm Hg or lower indicates that you need supplemental oxygen. High oxygen levels, above 110 mm Hg, can be toxic to your body as well. The doctor will determine if you need continual and frequent oxygen therapy or once in a while will do. There are various types of oxygen therapy that you might come across. These include;nasal cannula,oxygen therapy glasses, and face masks. We will discuss each of these below:
- Nasal cannula
The doctor will recommend the nasal cannula oxygen therapy if you need a low flow or a low to medium oxygen concentration. Nevertheless, there are high-flow nasal cannulas as well. You should also be in a stable state to take this option. This method is simple to use, easily tolerable, economical, lightweight, and easily disposable. Nasal cannulas are made of two hollow prongs which project from a hollow facepiece and sit inside your nostrils. 100% humidified oxygen flows from a reservoir and delivers a pharyngeal concentration of 25% – 40% after it as mixed with room air in varying amounts.
With a nasal cannula, you get to continue with your regular eating and talking pattern. They are also portable and you can use them for walking or traveling. You can make your nasal cannula last longer by taking good care of it. Wash it on a regular basis to avoid the build-up of bacteria which could be toxic. If you are using the device all day, take a few minutes to disinfect it once or twice a day. When cleaning it, you can use warm water with dish soap and vinegar to kill bacteria. After, rinse it with cold water and hang to dry before reusing it.
- Face masks
A face mask also includes two prongs that go inside the nostrils. Unlike a nasal cannula, a face mask covers the nose and mouth. It is made of clear plastic. A simple face mask also delivers low levels of oxygen but higher than those of a nasal cannula. There are also other types of masks such as the Venturi masks which deliver accurate concentrations of oxygen when the flow rate is high. A simple face mask will not have a reservoir bag and will contain holes in the mask as opposed to non-rebreather one-way valves. The holes allow air to enter the mask and prevent suffocation if a disconnection from oxygen takes place. They are common among life support personnel such as lifeguards and firefighters.
- Oxygen therapy glasses (oxy-view)
If you do not like being tied to oxygen, then these glasses are for you. Oxygen therapy glasses are perfect as they are more comfortable to use in the public space and are less attention-calling. These frames are specially designed with a built-in nasal cannula to provide a better alternative to cumbersome oxygen machines and give you more freedom. If you wear sunglasses, they are an even better choice for you. Their benefits include;
- Providing therapy up to 5 liters in a minute without using the nasal cannula.
- They work with various types of oxygen delivery systems including liquid and gas cylinder oxygen, and concentrators.
- They can work with most prescription and sunglass lenses allowing you to enjoy a two-in-one benefit.
- They come in various unisex styles and colors for those who still want to look fashionable.
Relying on supplemental oxygen is a major lifestyle change but you will quickly adopt. Choose a method of oxygen therapy that makes you comfortable and is also pocket-friendly.