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When do I need Supplemental Oxygen?


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When do I need Supplemental oxygen? The amount of oxygen in the bloodstream can be easily measured two ways:

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When do I need Supplemental oxygen?

The amount of oxygen in the bloodstream can be easily measured two ways:

Oximetry: This is the method used most often. A small, clip-on device shines a light through your finger or earlobe and measures the amount of light absorbed by the oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in the red blood cells. By calculating the amount of light absorption, the device can measure how saturated the hemoglobin is with oxygen molecules, or O2 sat. Normally, the oxygen saturation of the blood is around 98 to 100 percent.

Arterial blood gas study: In this procedure, blood is drawn out of an artery, usually in the wrist, using a needle and syringe. The blood is then sent through an analyser to measure the amount of oxygen gas dissolved in the blood. This result is called the arterial oxygen pressure (paO2) and is normally 80 to 100 mm Hg.

The body needs enough oxygen to keep the blood adequately saturated, so that cells and tissues get enough oxygen to function properly. Furthermore, cells and tissues can neither “save up” nor “catch up” on oxygen — they need a constant supply. When the oxygen saturation falls below 89 percent, or the arterial oxygen pressure falls below 60 mmHg — whether during rest, activity, sleep or at altitude — then supplemental oxygen is needed.

 

You can determine your supplemental oxygen needs by testing you while you are at rest and while walking and can also do an overnight oximetry study to test your oxygen saturation at night. A high-altitude simulation test is also available to test your oxygen saturation at 8000 ft (the cabin pressure of most airliners).

 

If your waking oxygen saturation is greater than about 94 percent on room air, it is unlikely that your saturation during sleep will fall below 88 percent.

How do I know that I'm using the right amount of supplemental oxygen?

To determine if you’re getting the right amount of supplemental oxygen, your oxygen saturation must be measured while you are using your oxygen. You should test your oxygen saturation on oxygen while you are at rest, while walking and, if indicated, while you are asleep. As long as your saturation is in the 90s, you are getting the right amount of supplemental oxygen.

How will using supplemental oxygen benefit me?

When a person isn’t getting enough oxygen, all organs of the body can be affected, especially the brain, heart and kidneys. Wearing supplemental oxygen keeps these organs, and many others, healthy. There is evidence that, for people who are hypoxemic, supplemental oxygen improves quality of life, exercise tolerance and even survival.

 

Supplemental oxygen can also help relieve your symptoms. You may feel relief from shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness and depression. You may be more alert, sleep better and be in a better mood. You may be able to do more activities such as traveling, including traveling to high altitudes.

 

Symptoms such as shortness of breath may be caused by something other than lack of oxygen. In these cases, supplemental oxygen may not relieve the symptom.

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