I thought about not writing this article because it could confuse some patients and lead them to make choices unknown to their doctor, which could be harmful.  Therefore, after you read this brief article do not change anything about your oxygen therapy without discussing it with the doctor that prescribed it.

The reason patients use oxygen is to help them survive longer. The main way in which oxygen helps patient survival is by reducing the heart complications that occur when patients are exposed to long term oxygen deficits.  The question then becomes who do we identify as needing oxygen and what situations are helped by using oxygen.

The LTOT (long term oxygen trial) study confirmed the benefit of oxygen use in patients with COPD who had severe reductions in their oxygen levels at rest.  Since this landmark study, oxygen has been prescribed for a variety of circumstances associated with low oxygen levels.  The use of oxygen at night for patients with consistent low oxygen levels has been helpful in improving survival.  This does not include patients with obstructive sleep apnea who have periods of low oxygen content at night.

There are a number of technical factors in using some forms of oxygen therapy, including ambulatory oxygen therapy and so-called short burst oxygen therapy.  Many of these issues center around patient compliance with the oxygen prescription and the method by which the oxygen is delivered.  If you use oxygen be sure you completely understand the need and benefit of this treatment