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When is oxygen therapy necessary?

Oxygen therapy is necessary in situations when the levels of oxygen in the blood are decreased, which happens when the process of taking in oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide is not adequate. The goal of this therapy is to raise the levels of oxygen in tissues where these levels are significantly lower either because of some illness, or because of some injury. Since it consists of administering the oxygen, it affects the heart in a positive way because it does not have to work with more efforts, and it also relieves the shortness of breath. Heart attack, pulmonary hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, acute asthma and pneumonia are only some of the situations that require the use of oxygen therapy.

Oxygen therapy does not have to be provided in the hospitals only, because there is a possibility that allows the oxygen to be administered at home. However, in both cases, the flow rate and ventilatory minute volume are something that needs to be prescribed and that the patients must not change on their own. Clinical observations, pulse oximetry and results of blood gas measurements are what helps to determine the dosage of supplemental oxygen.

Side effects of oxygen therapy

Even though oxygen might not seem to be dangerous, it is not free of side effects and risks. In order to minimize the possibility of experiencing any, it is necessary to use oxygen as prescribed by the doctor. In this way, overuse will also be avoided, as well as serious problems and complications associated with it. Some of them are oxygen toxicity and respiratory depression, to name but a few. Other possible side effects are anxiety, frequent headaches, drowsiness, confusion, and problems with breathing (either slow or shallow breathing). The signs that indicate cyanosis such as blue lips or fingernails might also develop in patients who receive oxygen therapy, and all these symptoms require consultations with the doctor or sometimes even emergency medical assistance.

In cases of infants, blindness can be caused if the levels of the given oxygen are too high. Temporary problems with vision, along with nausea and tiredness, pain in the ear and problems with sinus are possible when undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy, but all of these symptoms will go away after a short time if they develop. Measures of precaution require keeping the equipment away from sources of heat, including even candle flames. Sprays and other inflammable objects should be kept away from it as well. 

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