Health and Fitness
Oxygen Therapy and Ventilatory Support: Things to Know

Oxygen Therapy and Ventilatory Support: Things to Know

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oxygen therapy and ventilatory support


The human body is designed to breathe oxygen from the air. However, when certain diseases or conditions affect your lungs, breathing becomes difficult. And it can become necessary for you to receive oxygen therapy to live a productive life. This blog post will discuss what ventilatory support and oxygen therapy are and their side effects and benefits. This is essential to know for seniors who are considering Home Care, as they may have to look into ventilatory support devices for their homes.

What Is Ventilatory Support and Oxygen Therapy?

Ventilator support is when a machine helps someone breathe. Oxygen therapy is when you use something like oxygen tanks to help someone breathe better.

Ventilatory Support

Oxygen Therapy

When you or a loved one is in respiratory distress, the first line of treatment may be ventilator assistance. Ventilatory support is the use of mechanical devices to help you or a loved one breathe. The term describes the act of mechanically providing oxygen and removing carbon dioxide from your lungs. This is usually done via a ventilator, which can be either invasive or noninvasive.

It can also refer to oxygen therapy, which has many benefits on its own as well.

Oxygen Therapy

Oxygen Therapy

Oxygen therapy provides oxygen in an easier way than breathing from the air by using a mask and tubes that go through your nose into your lungs. This type of therapy can improve breathing and shorten the time when someone experiences respiratory difficulties. You can do this via nasal cannula, mask, or mouthpiece, depending on your needs and whether you are hospitalized.

Oxygen therapy can help patients who are suffering from conditions that impair breathing. One of the most common types is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which makes it difficult to breathe due to mucus buildup in the lungs and bronchial tubes.

A type of oxygen therapy called non-invasive ventilation or NIV helps patients with COPD by delivering oxygen through these tubes to get enough air into their lungs.

There are many different kinds of ventilators available for people who need this type of care, including continuous positive airway pressure machines (CPAP) and bi-level positive airway pressure devices (BPAP). It’s important to talk with your doctor about what treatments would be best.

Benefits of Oxygen Therapy

    • Improves shortness of breath
    • Restores blood oxygen levels to normal in people who have decreased activity or are unable to breathe normally
    • Treats various medical conditions that make it difficult for the body to get enough oxygen, including COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and asthma.
    • Increases energy level
    • Increases comfort
    • Reduces fatigue
    • Reduces anxiety and fear of suffocation
    • Decreases risk for infection by improving overall lung function
    • Reduces neurological symptoms from lack of oxygen (e.g., confusion, agitation)
    • Improves chances for survival from a respiratory arrest

When oxygen therapy is used as part of ventilatory support, it can provide an extra amount of oxygen that the person’s lungs cannot produce independently. This type of treatment should be done in conjunction with other therapies such as diuretics to combat excess fluid build-up (edema) or chest physical therapy to increase lung capacity.

Who Might Need Oxygen Therapy?

Those who are most likely to need oxygen therapy include:

    • People with heart or lung conditions (e.g., chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic bronchitis, asthma)
    • Older adults with diminished oxygen absorption capacity in their lungs (asthma, emphysema)
    • People with heart disease in which the lungs may not be able to handle normal levels of activity without supplemental oxygen
    • Individuals recovering from surgery and trauma to the chest or abdomen
    • Anyone living at a high altitude for a prolonged period (e.g., mountain climbers)
    • Newborns that have problems breathing because they cannot produce enough oxygen on their own
    • Those who are pregnant

What Are the Side Effects of Oxygen Therapy?

Although Oxygen Therapy works as a relief method, it’s still possible that health risks may occur. Common side effects of using oxygen therapy include:

    • Irritation or dryness of nose and throat
    • Fatigue
    • Discomfort related to nasal cannula placement during sleep
    • Dry mouth when using an oral airway device around the clock
    • Dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting if pressure is too high on the lungs
    • Chest pain that worsens with deep breaths

More severe side effects may be present in some individuals, such as oxygen toxicity (breathing too much oxygen) and hyperbaric oxygen injury (too high oxygen concentration). Although rare, more severe possible reactions to the therapy could occur, including hypoxia or low blood pressure caused by breathing pure oxygen.

The risk for many side effects can be reduced by following your physician’s instructions on dosage levels and timing of administration. Specific precautions based on age and certain medical conditions will also need to be considered before receiving treatment with supplemental oxygen therapy.

When Should I Get Ventilatory Support and Oxygen Therapy?

Oxygen Therapy

Talk with your physician before going through any treatment options that involve supplemental oxygen, such as intermittent positive pressure (IPP) ventilation or continuous noninvasive ventilator assistance at home with a device.

A respiratory therapist specializes in evaluating lung function tests before recommending these treatments. They can also advise on when it’s time for more aggressive therapies, including supplementary oxygen therapy delivered via portable tanks of compressed gas containing pure oxygen, referred to as Portable Concentrators. Or many people consider it as and administered within an enclosed space, also known as a hyperbaric oxygen chamber.

What Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a treatment to relieve symptoms from conditions that has no treatment using conventional medical therapies. HBOT provides oxygen to tissues and cells in an increased pressure environment. This helps alleviate many types of injuries and some chronic diseases such as diabetes or arteriosclerosis by increasing blood flow and delivering more oxygen into affected areas.

A doctor may prescribe therapeutic oxygen, delivered through masks worn on the nose and mouth during 30-minute sessions inside of a pressurized room at sea level pressure that’s filled with 100% pure oxygen. This treatment option can be helpful if there’s any evidence of complications from lung disease such as pulmonary hypertension – especially if it isn’t responding well enough to medication or other therapies, but only under very specialized care provided by professionals licensed in this area- because too much supplemental oxygen can cause problems.

How Does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Work?

The following are four informational bullet points about how hyperbaric oxygen therapy works:

  1. Provides higher oxygen levels than ambient air
  2. Increases oxygen’s ability to penetrate lung tissue and diffuse into the bloodstream
  3. In some cases, it can help speed up recovery from an infection or injury
  4. It may be used in conjunction with other treatments for severe burns such as skin grafting. It may also be used when a patient needs supplemental oxygen therapy after surgery.

Taking precautions based on age and certain medical conditions before receiving supplemental oxygen therapy can help decrease side effects caused by exposure to hyperbaric pressures. Additionally, following safety procedures while engaging in HBOT treatments will also reduce these risks. Treatment plans must be created individually because every patient has different needs; however, there are general guidelines available if you would like to learn about what potential complications might arise.

Disadvantages of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy 

One disadvantage of HBOT is that oxygen toxicity can occur if someone uses too much pure oxygen. This side effect occurs when the amount of dissolved oxygen in the body becomes dangerously high and may lead to seizures or death, so it’s important for patients with cardiovascular ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, or coronary artery disease should not use HBOT without consulting a medical professional first.

Also, some patients might find that breathing in pure oxygen is uncomfortable due to nasal congestion; however, this can easily be remedied by using an oral airway device instead if needed. Another common side effect experienced during hyperbaric oxygen treatment sessions is ear discomfort since pressure from the surrounding atmosphere could cause pain inside your ears when you breathe deeply while wearing your nose clip or mask.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Wound Healing

To date, there is no definitive research that indicates the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for wound healing. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment can also aid in speeding up recovery from an infection or injury in some cases, but it can never replace proper medical care.

As a general guideline, patients should not receive more than one treatment per day, and sessions should last no longer than 45 minutes at three atmospheres of absolute pressure with 100% oxygen saturating the environment inside the chamber. After each session, the patient will need time to breathe normal air before beginning another round of supplemental oxygen therapy due to potential side effects, as discussed above.

How Much Does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Cost?

The cost of hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a function of the total number of hours in treatment.

For example, if you have 12 sessions that are each 45 minutes long at three atmospheres of absolute pressure with 100% oxygen saturating the environment inside the chamber, then your total time will be 540 minutes. Your approximate cost for one session would be $200-$275.

If you need more than one session per day or longer treatments such as 60-90 minute sessions at four to six atmospheres absolute pressure with 80%-100% oxygen saturation, then expect costs to increase accordingly. For instance, a 60-minute treatment might range from approximately $400 – $500 depending on where it takes place.

Some insurance companies will cover the cost of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. In other cases, patients may have to pay out-of-pocket for treatment or opt for a less expensive option such as heliox.

What Are the Benefits of Using an Oxygen Concentrator at Home?

Oxygen concentrator

In the past decade, more and more people have been making use of oxygen concentrators to increase their oxygen intake at home.

More frequent activity can cause low levels in the body’s tissues. When you’re out of breath or experience dizziness due to lack of oxygen, it means your organs aren’t getting enough air. Oxygen is crucial for brain function, so low oxygen levels might lead to some symptoms found in people living with dementia, like memory loss and confusion. Also, dementia can kill older adults if they are not properly monitored or taken care of. So, it’s best to have an oxygen tank ready for emergency cases. But still, it’s best to seek a doctor’s advice.

Tips for Using an Oxygen Tank at Home

    • Fill your oxygen tank before you leave for the day, in case of emergencies

    • Keep oxygen tanks in a convenient place, such as the bathroom

    • If your oxygen tank is noisy when you open it up and turn it on, keep it outside of the bedroom. This will help ensure that noise doesn’t disturb your sleep routine or anyone else’s in your household.

    • Store oxygen tanks at least six feet away from any potential heat sources to avoid an explosion risk – including stoves, space heaters, dryers, and ovens.

    • Keep an extra concentrator to have on hand

    • Make sure you follow all the safety precautions when using a concentrator

The Respiratory Therapist’s Role

respiratory therapist

When you’re not feeling well from low oxygen level, it could be because of a minor cold. But sometimes, people might need supplemental oxygen therapy. This is specifically true if there is lung disease or other medical conditions. For example, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), heart failure, and cystic fibrosis.

Respiratory therapists can assess airflow by asking how easy it is for you to breathe out after breathing in deeply. The name of the process is Forced Exhalation Technique). The therapist could also measure oxygen levels through a finger clip or ear probe that measures oxygen saturation. If the oxygen level falls below the necessary level, then they’ll recommend supplemental therapy. This will involve portable tanks of compressed gas containing pure oxygen at a higher pressure than atmospheric pressure. As a result, more molecules are dissolved into your bloodstream. This hyperbaric oxygen treatment will get more oxygen directly into all cells of your body and may help you feel better quickly.

How to Prepare for a Home Visit from a Respiratory Therapist?

Most respiratory therapists will usually contact their patients in advance to make sure they are ready for the visit. They usually bring a portable oxygen tank, which is filled with oxygen at atmospheric pressure. The therapist will want you to put on an oxygen mask. This allows the therapist to find out how much airflow your body needs through different exercises. Some of the exercises involve blowing up balloons and trying breathing while doing some chores around the house.


Ventilatory support and oxygen therapy can help someone with breathing problems. While oxygen therapy delivers supplemental oxygen to the patient’s lungs, ventilatory support helps the patient breathe. These treatments can help improve the patient’s prognosis and quality of life.

It’s important to talk with your physician before going through any treatment options involving Ventilatory support and oxygen therapy. There may involve some health risks. A respiratory therapist specializes in evaluating lung function tests before recommending these therapies; they can also advise on when it’s time for more aggressive therapies if needed.

At BoomersHub, we provide you with information about all of the latest senior care tips so you know what steps to take next. Do not hesitate to click around our site! Our Senior Advisors will be happy to answer any questions and provide information about Senior Living options as well.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How long can you live on oxygen therapy? 

People who require Long-Term Oxygen Therapy may have a life expectancy of 2-3 years. 

How long do the effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy last? 

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can last from 3 minutes to a couple of hours. 

How much does hyperbaric oxygen therapy cost? 

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can cost around $250-$450. However, the cost may vary depending on location. 

Is hyperbaric oxygen therapy safe? 

Hyperbaric oxygen therapies are considered safe with very rare complications. The success rate is also quite high (85-95 percent). 

Can you work while on oxygen therapy? 

Whether you can work on oxygen therapy or not depends on what kind of job you do. If it is exhaustive or takes a lot of effort, then it may not be a good idea. Light work, however, is doable. 

Does oxygen therapy make you tired? 

One common side effect of oxygen therapy is fatigue. This can be caused by a number of factors, including the body’s adjustment to receiving extra oxygen, the medications used to deliver the oxygen, and the underlying condition that is being treated. Fatigue from oxygen therapy is usually temporary and will improve with time. 

What is high flow oxygen therapy? 

High flow oxygen therapy is a type of treatment that delivers oxygen at a higher-than-normal rate through a nasal cannula. The oxygen flows at such a high rate that it helps to keep the airways open, which is beneficial for people who have difficulty breathing. High flow oxygen therapy can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including COPD, asthma, COVID-19, and bronchiolitis. 

Can you drive after hyperbaric oxygen therapy?   

After HBOT, it is generally recommended that patients wait at least an hour before driving. This is because the high concentration of oxygen can lead to dizziness and impaired judgment. In addition, the increase in pressure can cause ear pain, making it difficult to hear traffic sounds. For these reasons, it is best to wait until the effects of HBOT have worn off before getting behind the wheel. 

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