What is oxygen therapy?

Oxygen is a gas that you need for your body to function. It makes up 21% of the air you breathe. Most people breathe in all of the oxygen they need from air, but for some medical conditions you may need more oxygen than that. Therapies that use oxygen can help your body function better by relieving symptoms caused by not having enough oxygen. They also can help promote healing and help your body fight infection.

Supplemental oxygen therapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy are two treatments that provide more oxygen to your body.

Supplemental oxygen therapy can help if you have low levels of oxygen in your blood from certain health conditions. Decreased lung function from lung disease may lead to low blood oxygen levels, for example. Supplemental oxygen, delivered through a breathing tube, mask or nasal prongs, is used to raise blood oxygen levels and treat symptoms of low levels such as irritability, shortness of breath, morning headaches and ankle swelling. Low blood oxygen levels can slow growth in children, but oxygen therapy can help keep development on track.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used to treat a wide variety of health conditions, including anemia, arterial gas embolism (air bubbles in your blood vessels) and several types of injuries. In hyperbaric oxygen therapy, the air pressure of a room is raised, which allows your lungs to collect almost three times as much oxygen as they normally would. This increase of oxygen in your blood better enables your body to heal and fight infection.

Continue Learning about Respiratory Therapy

Why doesn't supplemental oxygen prevent me from getting short of breath?
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What conditions can benefit from hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
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Is my oxygen supplier required to provide an oxygen concentrator if I fly?
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Will Medicare pay for the cost of electricity my oxygen equipment uses?
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.