Oxygen therapy has become commonplace in combating the symptoms of a number of medical conditions, as well as being used to improve general well being. It is a simple and natural treatment that almost anyone can benefit from, whether they are seriously ill or just need a pick-me-up.
The aim of oxygen therapy is to provide patients with extra oxygen. Most people get all they need from the air, which contains 21 per cent oxygen, but there are a number of reasons why some individuals may need more.
At a day-to-day level, the air people breathe may be polluted or have high levels of ozone, which can lead to a shortage of oxygen that causes migraines, stress and fatigue. Should you have a respiratory condition, it may be that the illness prevents you getting enough of this vital element.
Inhaling pure oxygen will increase the amount of it that reaches the lungs and is absorbed into the bloodstream. This helps the body to function better, as well as delay the cell-ageing process, thus having a positive impact on the immune system, giving the patient more energy and decreasing shortness of breath.
One of the most amazing aspects about oxygen therapy is just how many serious medical conditions it can be used to treat. It won’t surprise you to learn it can be really effective for anyone with respiratory illnesses, such as pneumonia and asthma. Not only can it alleviate the symptoms, it can also allow some patients the freedom to be treated at home instead of being restricted to a hospital bed.
It is often used in medical emergencies, for everything from resuscitation to anaphylaxis and hypothermia. Some patients have also found it useful in recovering from serious problems, such as heart surgery or cancer, as having pure oxygen available to inhale gives them a simple way to boost their energy levels and cope with sudden breathlessness.
How to take oxygen
Oxygen therapy can be administered in a number of ways, including through a mask that fits over the nose and mouth, via a nasal cannula and, in extreme cases, by having a small tube inserted in an incision in the windpipe.
However, taking oxygen at home does not have to be such an intrusive process. It is usually as simple as fixing an inhalation cap to the canister and taking eight to ten breaths through it.
One of the major uses of oxygen therapy is to combat sleep disorders. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) sees the muscles and tissue in the throat relax to block the airway and prevent the sufferer getting sufficient oxygen.
This causes them to come out of deep sleep into a light sleep and even awake for a brief period. As this can happen more than once a minute during the night, it is easy to understand why people with the problem often experience extreme tiredness and poor concentration levels during the day.
Perhaps the most effective way to deal with OSA is not drugs, but oxygen. Using a continuous positive airway pressure machine – which involves wearing a breathing mask while asleep – to ensure ongoing delivery of oxygen will help the sufferer get a better night’s sleep and reduce their blood pressure.
Improved sporting performance
Oxygen therapy is not just for the nasty things in life; it can also help to improve sporting performance and the effectiveness of keep-fit programmes. Academic studies have shown inhaling pure oxygen during and after workouts results in better performance levels, shorter recovery times and greater weight loss.
Inhaling pure oxygen can also be an effective cure for a hangover and certainly one that is healthier than a fry-up. An increased supply of oxygen helps speed up the metabolic rate, which means toxins are broken down more quickly – and your headache and fatigue should disappear sooner.