What Is Oxygen Therapy?

Oxygen, a gas that comprises about 21% of the air, is essential for survival. Cells will not be able to live, grow or function properly without enough oxgen. When the normal intake of oxygen is not enough to meet the demands of the body, extra oxygen is delivered by human intervention in a procedure generally known as oxygen therapy.

Why Is Oxygen Therapy Necessary?

Cells thrive in an environment with higher oxygen concentration. When the blood is saturated with oxygen, the stress on the heart is lower, the chance for bacterial infection and cellular mutation is reduced and people enjoy much better overall well being.  Under normal circumstances, the oxygen in the air is sufficient to sustain the body’s need to carry out all necessary functions, but for people with medical conditions, extra doses must be delivered through oxygen therapy. Oxygen therapy is often prescribed for the following treatment purposes:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, such as asthma and chronic bronchitis
  • Acute respiratory diseases, such as pneumonia and respiratory failure
  • Congestive heart failure and cardiac arrest
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Burns
  • Gas poisoning
  • Cancer
  • Depression and autism
  • Surgical air supply
  • Trauma and emergency resuscitation
  • Neonatal care

How Is Oxygen Therapy Administered?

There are several ways in which extra oxygen can be delivered.

  • Nasal cannula: A thin tube with two small nozzles is inserted into the patient’s nose to provide a slow and comfortable flow of oxygen. The source of oxygen flow for this type of therapy can either be portable or stationary, and can only deliver oxygen at slightly higher than normal concentrations, from 24% – 40%.     
  • Facial mask: A mask worn over the patient’s nose and mouth delivers extra oxygen flow at a concentration of 28% – 50%. This is the type of delivery most commonly used in emergency medical services.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen chamber: A sealed chamber in which one or more patients can be enclosed and surrounded by pressurized pure oxygen. This type of therapy provides the highest degree of oxygenation and has the strongest impact.

Wider Applications of Oxygen Therapy

In addition to its traditional medical uses, the fact that higher saturation of oxygen in blood promotes better cellular performance is now being applied for purposes of personal care, fitness training and for the enhancement of people’s lives.  

  • Acne prevention and treatment: Higher concentration of oxygen is delivered directed to the skin to help stop epidermal bacterial colonization and growth.
  • Anti-aging therapy: Better oxygenation helps to slow down cellular aging and prevent cell deaths.
  • Elevated physical performance: Higher concentration of oxygen increases muscle strength, endurance and energy.
  • Weight loss: Higher concentration of oxygen increases the body’s metabolic rate, leading to more efficient calorie burning.

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