Your lungs have a very important job: absorb oxygen from the air and transfer it into your bloodstream, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). But some diseases and conditions can keep your body from getting the oxygen it needs. If you develop one of these conditions, and your blood oxygen level falls too low, your doctor may prescribe supplemental oxygen.
Supplemental oxygen, especially portable oxygen solutions, helps those with chronic lung diseases to enjoy life to the fullest. A portable oxygen unit, like a portable concentrator, can help you regain your independence and mobility while allowing you to increase your physical fitness, as well as time spent with family and friends.
The following list will help you recognize and understand the conditions and diseases that may require supplemental oxygen to help you feel better:
- Pulmonary fibrosis: A person is often diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis (PF) when tissues in the lungs become thickened, stiff and scarred, according to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. The Mayo Clinic provides many reasons someone could develop PF, including long-term exposure to occupational toxins, radiation treatment, certain diseases and medical conditions. However, in many cases the cause remains unknown. As the disease progresses, it decreases the amount of oxygen lungs can transfer to the bloodstream. Supplemental oxygen helps to reduce breathlessness, while portable solutions enable those with PF to be more physically active.
- Cystic fibrosis: Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited disease that affects the secretory glands, including those that produce mucus and sweat, according to NHLBI. Unfortunately, with CF, thick sticky mucus collects in the airways, creating an ideal place for bacteria to grow. After repeated, intense lung infections, the lungs become severely compromised. Supplemental oxygen can help the lungs do their job.
- Emphysema: The No. 1 culprit of an emphysema diagnosis is smoking, which causes the small air sacs in the lungs to gradually become compromised, according to Mayo Clinic. This damage makes it harder and harder to breathe normally. Those with emphysema often become short of breath on a regular basis. However, supplemental oxygen can help provide some relief by increasing blood oxygen levels and making oxygen distribution easier on the body.
- Chronic bronchitis: Chronic bronchitis can also be caused by cigarette smoke and harmful toxins and pollutants breathed in over time. The disease, which will get worse over time, is characterized by a constant cough and large amount of mucus. When caught early, the disease can then be managed so you can live a full, active life. As the disease progresses, portable oxygen solutions can allow you the mobility and independence you need to get out and moving more often.
- Alpha 1 Antitrypsin Deficiency: This genetic disorder can lead to breathing problems at a young age and eventually develop into emphysema or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), according to WebMD. The Alpha 1 Antitrypsin enzyme is found in the lungs and bloodstream and is meant to prevent inflammation and its effects in the lungs. When your body lacks enough of this enzyme, it can lead to emphysema and make it difficult to breathe. NHLBI says supplemental oxygen, along with bronchodilators and pulmonary rehabilitation, are common treatments of AAT deficiency.