Each year thousands of individuals in the United States are diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), especially cigarette smokers. Many of these individuals will be prescribed oxygen therapy by their physician. As the population of the United States continues to age, more and more people are going to be required to use supplemental oxygen. COPD has several common signs and symptoms to alert individuals that they may have a respiratory problem. Some of the most common COPD warning signs are:
* Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
* Chronic cough
* Hemoptysis (coughing up blood)
* Ankle swelling
* Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
* Confusion, slurring of speech
* Increasing morning headaches
COPD is a disease that progresses slowly and causes many changes to occur in the lungs. Narrowing of the airways and damage to the lung tissue are common occurrences for COPD patients. As the disease worsens, the lungs performance deteriorates, requiring the need for supplemental oxygen to make up for what your lungs are no longer able to do. COPD related inflammation destroys tissue in the lungs which reduce transportation of oxygen to the cells of the lungs and the transportation of carbon dioxide back out of the cells. The inflammation makes it harder for blood to get into the lungs, lowering the oxygen levels in the blood, which may result in pulmonary hypertension. The symptoms of pulmonary hypertension are shortness of breath, dizziness and fatigue.
If you exhibit some or all of these symptoms, you should see your physician immediately. The primary method used for diagnosing COPD is called spirometry. This procedure is a simple breathing test that measures airflow out of the lungs. If the amount of air you breathe out (forced expiratory volume) is reduced, this is a common diagnosis of COPD. Another method used to test blood oxygen levels is using a blood gas syringe to draw blood from an artery and send the blood through an analyzer to determine the level of oxygen. Although effective, this is a much more invasive procedure than spirometry.
Many patients ask “Will oxygen therapy cure my COPD?" The answer is no. Receiving supplemental oxygen helps your damaged lungs to do what they can no longer manage on their own. Receiving oxygen does not remedy your underlying lung disease. Long-term oxygen therapy should improve your quality of life. You should experience less instances of shortness of breath and feel increased energy levels. Oxygen therapy may also improve mental clarity and kidney function that can be impaired by low levels of oxygen in the blood. The majority of COPD patients are former smokers. If you are a smoker and continue to smoke, you may not benefit much from oxygen therapy.
About the Author - Chuck Jaymes is an indoor air quality professional for Oxygen Concentrator and offers reviews and information about Inogen One Portable Oxygen Concentrators for OscarAir, Inc.