How Much Is Too Much Supplemental Oxygen?

Written by: Lung Health
August 10, 2018
Too Much Supplemental O2

Supplemental oxygen is often prescribed for patients suffering from the later stages of lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Supplemental oxygen is prescribed when lung function is diminished to the point where additional oxygen is needed to continue normal bodily functions. Supplemental oxygen can improve mental alertness and stamina, and prevent heart failure in people with severe lung disease, such as emphysema. But is there such a thing as too much supplemental oxygen?

When Is Supplemental Oxygen Prescribed?

Healthy blood oxygen levels are between 95 to 100%, while blood oxygen levels between 90 to 94% are considered low, but not a serious health issue. Doctors typically prescribe supplemental oxygen when a patient’s blood oxygen tension while breathing is below 55 mm Hg, or their baseline oxygen saturation is 88% or less, according to Medscape. Oxygen is best utilized to achieve a target range rather than a fixed dose.

For someone with COPD, the target range should be between 88 to 92%. Blood oxygen levels below 88% put the patient at risk of hypoxia, or a deficiency of oxygen reaching body tissue, or hypercapnia, which is excessive carbon dioxide in the bloodstream.

When using supplemental oxygen, it’s good to treat oxygen like any other drug prescribed by your doctor and use it as recommended. Your provider will recommend the amount of oxygen needed to keep your blood oxygen levels above 90%.

Can I Become Dependent on Supplemental Oxygen?

Fortunately, you cannot become “addicted” to oxygen because everyone needs oxygen to breathe and survive. If supplemental oxygen is taken as instructed by a medical physician, there should be no complications. However, if someone on supplemental oxygen begins to feel confusion, headaches or increased sleepiness, then their dosage may need to be adjusted.

Using supplemental oxygen set above the recommended levels can irritate the lining of the nose and cause dryness or bleeding. A humidifier is included in some oxygen equipment to avoid this issue.

How Is Supplemental Oxygen Supplied?

Supplemental oxygen can be supplied in compressed or liquid oxygen containers, or via oxygen concentrating devices. Oxygen gas is stored in aluminum or steel canisters. Liquid oxygen is made from cooling and compressing oxygen gas to the point where it condenses into liquid. Oxygen concentrators produce oxygen by concentrating ambient oxygen and removing other gasses.

Alternative treatments to medications and oxygen are out there. Lung Health Institute offers a wellness plan and cellular therapy that has helped many patients regain control of their lives. Contact Lung Health Institute today for more information or to schedule a free consultation.

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