Friday, October 19, 2012

How Is Oxygen Therapy Used To Treat COPD?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a disorder of the lungs, the primary symptom of which is a shortness of breath that can't be fully reversed (as it can be with similar illnesses like Asthma). Other symptoms include wheezing, a chronic cough, fatigue and in some cases, depression. The disease is typically caused by prolonged exposure to lung irritants such as cigarette smoke and pollution.

There is no known cure for COPD and it is a deteriorative condition, gradually getting worse over time. In moderate to severe cases, COPD can cause sufferers a great deal of distress, so most efforts to treat the disease revolve around alleviating this distress and attempting to give the sufferer as 'normal' a lifestyle as possible.

Key to the treatment of COPD is oxygen therapy, which refers to the administration of concentrated oxygen through the airways of a patient. It's predominantly used in one of two ways; in hospital as treatment for an exasperation of the symptoms of COPD, or at home as a constant treatment.

Usually, patients with mild COPD won't require oxygen therapy unless they suffer an exasperation. For patients with moderate or severe COPD, however, oxygen therapy is an essential method of addressing the issue of low blood oxygen levels, which result from the breathing difficulties COPD sufferers have.

Home oxygen treatment courses are usually determined by a patient's doctor and are dependent on the severity of the condition and the patient's lifestyle. For moderate patients, it may be the case that they only require pulse-dose oxygen delivery, in which an oxygen concentrator delivers a short dose of oxygen upon the patient breathing in.

In more serious cases, a COPD sufferer may require continuous oxygen delivery, with the number of hours a patient is attached to a concentrator dependent on how much oxygen they require throughout the day. Continuous oxygen is also recommended for sleeping, although some concentrator now boast special 'sleep modes' that combine both delivery methods.

In the past, oxygen concentrators were large and stationary which often confined patients to their home and potentially led to serious bouts of depression. While stationary oxygen concentrators are still around owing to the high levels of oxygen capacity they have, many COPD patients have now switched to portable oxygen concentrators.

POC's allow those on oxygen therapy to venture outside of their home and receive treatment as they go about something resembling the day-to-day lives they led pre-treatment. While POC's in the past didn't offer much in the way of capacity (and thus made them unavailable to many COPD sufferers), newer models offer much more and are managing to fit more features, including more than one delivery method, into smaller devices.

Oxygen therapy had improved the lives of many COPD sufferers and enabled many to lead as normal a life as possible. Coupled with regular exercise and a healthy diet, the treatment is the most effective way to alleviate some of the symptoms of COPD and improve the outlook of COPD sufferers physically and emotionally.

Christopher Joseph Smith is writing on behalf of Pure O2, specialists in portable oxygen concentrators.

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