When we breathe in, our lungs fill with air. The oxygen then passes into our blood stream. The oxygenated blood is carried to the heart, which pumps the blood through the arteries to the muscles and tissues where it is used to make energy. We rarely think about our breathing.
However, for some people it may become harder to get enough oxygen into the blood stream, and this can mean there is not enough oxygen to meet the needs of their body. This can develop gradually and go unnoticed.
Chronic Respiratory Failure (CRF) is the respiratory system’s inability to oxygenate the blood. It is characterised by a drop in oxygen levels in the blood, sometimes accompanied by an increase in levels of carbon dioxide. The most common cause of respiratory failure is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
How can Long Term Oxygen Therapy (LTOT) help?
Long term oxygen therapy is often prescribed to help increase blood oxygen levels in patients with CRF.
Oxygen therapy increases the amount of oxygen in the blood so the body gets all the oxygen that it needs.
Oxygen can help the patient’s symptoms by:
- reducing the feeling of breathlessness
- improving the amount of exercise or activity they can do
- improving ability to sleep
- improving quality of life
- increasing their level of comfort
Some people might have a low oxygen level even at rest, and they may benefit from long term oxygen therapy.
Other patients may be advised to use oxygen for a certain amount of time, though never less than 15 hours per day. Each case will need a full assessment to find the correct prescription for the patient’s needs.
Oxygen therapy can be delivered in a number of different ways depending on the patient’s needs and lifestyle.