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Which people with COPD need oxygen?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

People with COPD usually have a hard time exercising and get short of breath due to low oxygen levels in their blood. Using oxygen during exercise and daily activities is called ambulatory oxygen therapy. A review of studies showed that this therapy improves shortness of breath after exercise, but does not help people exercise better or help them live longer. 

Continuous oxygen therapy is recommended for people with hypoxemia, a very low level of oxygen in the blood, which is often the result of COPD. People with severe resting hypoxemia (PaO2 55 mm Hg or lower or arterial oxygen saturation [SpO2] 88% or lower) are usually prescribed oxygen to be used at least 15 hours a day. 

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