Definition of Oxygen therapy

oxygen therapyOxygen therapy is the administration of oxygen via nasal cannula, face mask, endotracheal tube (tube inserted into the throat), or transtracheal catheter (small tube surgically placed through the outside of the throat into the trachea). Therapy delivers oxygen at a percentage higher than that of normal air, which is 21 percent oxygen at sea level.

Therapy can deliver oxygen from about 25 percent to 100 percent. This boosts the oxygen saturation of the blood, which becomes necessary when the lungs cannot adequately diffuse oxygen into the blood or the heart cannot circulate oxygenated blood at a level that meets the body’s needs.

Oxygen is highly flammable. Do not smoke, have an open flame, or use electrical appliances (including extension cords) in the vicinity of the oxygen supply.

Because 100 percent oxygen can be harmful to body tissues, doctors administer this level of oxygen therapy only to treat respiratory crisis. Supplemental therapy may be an element of treatment for cardiovascular conditions such as ischemic heart disease (ihd) and heart failure as well as pulmonary conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (copd)pneumonia, severe asthma, and atelectasis.

In the hospital setting the oxygen supply is centralized, with access ports in patient care areas. Oxygen-delivery tubing plugs into the port, with an individualized flow regulator to adjust the percentage of oxygen. Oxygen tanks for home oxygen therapy contain compressed or frozen (liquid) oxygen, with flow regulators and often a device that releases oxygen only on inhalation. Home therapy may use an oxygen concentrator instead of supplemental oxygen.

An oxygen concentrator extracts nitrogen from room air to increase the air’s concentration of oxygen. Oxygen concentrators can deliver oxygen only at low flow rates, however, making them useful only for people who require minimal oxygen supplementation. It is important to have adequate supplemental humidification as well during oxygen therapy, as the higher concentration of oxygen is drier than environmental air.

Oxygen therapy may be short-term or long-term treatment, depending on the condition that causes its use. The person may also use therapy continuously, only during sleep, or only during physical activity depending on his or her underlying disease and respiratory needs.

THERAPY
Oxygen TherapyDevice Percentage of Oxygen
nasal cannula25 to 40 percent
face mask30 to 50 percent
nonrebreathing mask50 to 90 percent
transtracheal catheterup to 100 percent
endotracheal tubeup to 100 percent
bag and mask resuscitatorup to 100 percent

See also OXYGEN-CARBON DIOXIDE EXCHANGETRACHEOSTOMY.

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