Oxygen Treatment And Asthma: Treating Low Blood Oxygen Levels
Last updated: May 2023
Food, water, shelter, and air are the four components that a human being needs to survive. Oxygen is the main component within the air that is needed for all of our living cells. Our cells need oxygen in order to be able to produce energy from the food we eat. So what happens when our lungs don't breathe in enough oxygen?1
Certain conditions may lessen the amount of oxygen that the lungs receive. These conditions include asthma, COPD, pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, and sleep apnea. If you experience any of these conditions, you may have low blood oxygen levels and may need to receive an oxygen treatment.2
What is oxygen treatment?
An oxygen treatment, also called oxygen therapy, is used to provide your lungs with additional oxygen when necessary. Typically, oxygen treatments are delivered through a face mask or nasal prongs, or sometimes an oxygen tent. Oxygen treatments can be done both in the hospital and in your home. Additionally, oxygen treatments may be required short term or long term.2,3
How does it work?
Oxygen treatments can improve your organ function, specifically your lungs, and improve symptoms that arise from certain conditions (like the ones mentioned above). When your blood oxygen content is low, it may cause you to feel fatigued, weak, confused, and short of breath.
After receiving an oxygen treatment, you may feel like you have more energy to participate in daily activities that previously caused you to feel fatigued (like walking, working, household chores, etc.). You may also feel like you are able to exercise for longer, and sleep better!2
When is oxygen used for asthma treatment?
Using oxygen treatments for asthma typically occurs in an emergency situation. If you were to have a severe or life-threatening asthma attack and take a trip to the ER, this would be a situation in which an oxygen treatment may be initiated. In this circumstance, a doctor would likely insert a breathing tube into your upper airway to pump oxygen into your lungs.4
Different types of oxygen treatments
Oxygen treatments can be delivered through a device like a tank of liquid or gas oxygen. These need to be refilled over time.
There are also oxygen concentrators, which draw oxygen out of the air; these do not need to be refilled. These devices attach to a mask or nasal prongs to distribute the oxygen to your body.
An oxygen tent is used less frequently (it is more commonly used for children now), but this technique involves placing a tent of plastic over your body and pumping high concentrations of oxygen into the tent.3
If you have asthma, and oxygen treatment may be used in the case of a severe or life-threatening attack. This treatment can also be helpful if you experience other conditions associated with asthma, and may help improve particular symptoms and organ function. If you experience severe asthma or any of the symptoms associated with low blood oxygen levels, consider bringing this up with your doctor.
Have you used an oxygen treatment for asthma before? If so, we would love to hear about your experience.
Has laughter ever triggered your asthma?