What is home oxygen treatment?
Home oxygen treatment is the use of oxygen supply equipment in the home for people with serious respiratory conditions.
Who needs home oxygen treatment?
In a healthy person there is plenty of oxygen in the arterial blood (The oxygen content of arterial blood is described as partial pressure (PaO2), healthy people have a PaO2 of greater than 85mmHg (millimeters of mercury). People suffering from serious cardiac and respiratory conditions such as emphysema and heart failure may have low levels of oxygen with a PaO2 less than 55mmHg. Evidence shows that in these people using supplemental oxygen may be beneficial.
How is suitability for home oxygen decided?
The blood oxygen level is read from one or more samples of arterial blood. Based on that reading the doctor will prescribe an amount of oxygen, based on 'flow rate' in litres per minute and the number of hours it needs to be given (16 hours a day or more is a standard figure).
How does the home oxygen equipment work?
There are a number of different machines, but the standard equipment is an 'oxygen concentrator'. This machine extracts oxygen from the air, which is delivered to the patient via a tube into the nose. This tube can be long enough to move around the house relatively easily, and even go outside. An oxygen concentrator does not require refills and can function for very long periods of time.
Oxygen concentrators provided by the government are not portable and oxygen cylinders or a portable oxygen concentrator is required if oxygen is required outside the house. There are many different types of portable concentrators available on the market.
For patients wishing to travel by plane, airlines will supply their own oxygen equipment for use by patients who need long term oxygen.
Is home oxygen treatment safe?
Yes it is, although oxygen is a combustible gas, and so it is important not to smoke or have a naked flame near the equipment, which would include gas heaters and stoves and open fires.
How does home oxygen help?
Home oxygen has been shown to prolongs life in people suffering from very low levels of oxygen due to certain severe respiratory conditions.