Try to think back, and remember what your daily routine looked like before you started suffering from symptoms associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, asthma, heart failure, cystic fibrosis, or sleep apnea…
Were your days filled with long walks outdoors, or restful naps after reading your new favorite novel? Did you spend time gardening and taking care of tasks around the house, or did you dedicate you free time to traveling far and wide to see loved ones meeting new friends along the way?
No matter what your daily life looked like before, you should still be able to experience the joys of life by accomplishing a similar daily routine now, or at least a daily routine that you love.
If you are diagnosed with stage one through four COPD or another type of breathing ailment, (for the sake of this article, we will mostly refer to COPD, however, the information applies to everyone who needs supplemental oxygen therapy despite what disease or chronic illness you may have) it is time to take control of your disease before it takes control of you. There are a lot of different lifestyle choices, treatments, and medications that can help you treat and control COPD.
For example, Several kinds of medications are used to treat the symptoms and complications of COPD. You may take some medications on a regular basis like Bronchodilators which are medications that usually come in inhalers — they relax the muscles around your airways.
Your doctor may recommend you begin a pulmonary rehabilitation program, which is a course for people with chronic lung diseases like COPD, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It will allow you to be as active as possible while educating you about your disease.
You can also try to limit or stop habits that impact your well-being such as smoking or exposing yourself to harmful populates and allergens.
You can start exercising more and eating lung and heart healthy foods.
However, the most impactful treatment that will allow you to get back to the daily routine which you love and value, is starting oxygen therapy. Now, the only people who can reap the benefits of oxygen therapy are patients who experience low-levels of oxygen, enough so that they require supplemental oxygen to increase their blood-oxygen levels to normal rates.
If you do not have low enough levels of oxygen, taking supplemental oxygen will not benefit you, and instead you should try to increase your exercise tolerance, take you medication prudently, and eat healthy. Inhaling extra oxygen your body does not need, can make you feel nauseous or dizzy from too much oxygen saturation.
If you need oxygen therapy, it will not only increase your blood-oxygen levels. This therapy will help you get back to doing the things you love to do, whether that is sleeping, walking, golfing, traveling, reading, socializing, and so on.
The most obvious thing about supplemental oxygen therapy is that it relieves a lot of the symptoms associated with COPD. Many of the symptoms that come with COPD are debilitating, leaving you at the will of your breathlessness and irritation. Taking away these symptoms gives you the freedom and energy you need to take advantage of all the life you have left!
Oxygen therapy relieves symptoms associate with your chronic illness so you can get back to doing what you love
Your goal when it comes to oxygen therapy should be to continue as many of your usual activities as you can!
You should work with your doctor and oxygen supply company to get oxygen equipment that will allow you to do every activities you still enjoy. Choosing the right type of equipment for you and your lifestyle is crucial — the right portable oxygen equipment can play a major role in improving your quality of life, starting by relieving a lot of your symptoms.
Here are 10 symptoms of COPD that oxygen therapy will work to improve or relieve, and some of the benefits you reap by doing so:
- Combats breathless
- Reduces dry coughing
- Improves stamina and energy
- Increases exercise tolerance
- Strengthens muscles, joints, and bones
- Give you the ability to travel
- Improves sleep
- Increases life expectancy
- Reduces headaches and nausea
- Can improve memory
Oxygen therapy takes away that feeling of breathlessness all times of the day. Whether you are resting or exercising, while you are using your oxygen, you should feel comfortable breathing and capable of doing things that once made you stop to catch your breath.
If you use a portable oxygen concentrator (POC), for example the Inogen One G5, you are able to carry it with you simply by slipping it into your purse, side satchel, or backpack. It only weighs 4.8 pounds, and has a pulse dose rate 1-6. So if your oxygen levels fluctuate throughout the day depending on the activities you are performing, your POC will be able to range between every oxygen source you need.
If you have very low levels of oxygen, and you require a continuous flow of oxygen while you rest or sleep, but during the day a pulse dose setting works for you, the Respironics SimplyGO POC has you covered. This unit weighs in at a mere 10 pounds and the SimplyGo is one of the smallest and lightest continuous flow portables available.
These two POC offer the same quality of life for two people with very different oxygen requirements, so whichever oxygen user you are, you can enjoy your days with little to no breathlessness.
Exacerbations, often referred to as flare ups, are caused when someone with COPD experiences extreme shortness of breath and their medications do not work in time to relieve their breathlessness, to the point where they must seek medical attention.
By using and adjusting to a portable oxygen concentrator or another form of oxygen therapy you will likely experience less flare ups and therefore spend less time in the hospital or seeking emergency medical attention.
This peace of mind alone can serve as many forms of release from COPD’s control over you, to the point where you feel in control of your disease.
Works to alleviate symptoms associated with coughing
If you have COPD, you have definitely experienced a persistent cough, but did you know that a cough that brings up a healthy amount and color of mucus is actually very beneficial for your airways and lungs?
If you are coughing “correctly” you are clearing your airways that are filled with excess mucus and often swollen airways. These two factors make it hard for oxygen to pass through, thereby reducing the function and productivity of your lungs.
Read this article for tips and tricks on how to cough correctly if you have COPD.
Well, if you have COPD you probably also experience a non-productive cough, often caused by smoking, it's called a dry cough. Other coughs that are common among patients with COPD are associated with anxiety. These coughs can be relieved and treated so that you can avoid coughing at social gatherings and in public spaces where it may make you feel uncomfortable.
You can reduce the dry cough if your doctor prescribes you some prednisone. A Prednisone is an anti-inflammatory drug that helps with inflammation of your airways in your lungs. If your cough is due something else that over-the-counter cough medications are unlikely to help, there are still other things that you can do to quiet a pesky cough.
Drinking water thins out your mucus making it easier to expel, staying hydrated also soothes your dry, irritated throat. You should drink at least 8 ounces of water every two hours, and if you tend to drink caffeine you should drink even more than that!
Lastly, you should try to avoid lung irritates like smoke, allergens, pollution, and other impurities in the air. These ailments can get into your lungs and stay there, making your cough last a lot longer than necessary. You can try using a humidifier in your home if you live in an arid environment to keep your throat and airways moist. Some air filters are also great for home use and can go a long way in filtering out dust and other particles in your home for fresh breathing air.
So, what does oxygen therapy have to do with a pesky cough that makes you want to stay home rather than attending your favorite annual conference or attending a social gathering? Coughing is a natural reaction that your lungs will force you to do when your airways are swollen tight and filled with mucus. Your cough alone will not clear your airways enough so that you can breathe in the amount of oxygen you need to not only be more social, but to survive.
An additional oxygen therapy prescription on top of the correct coughing techniques will get your body the oxygen it craves. You will likely start to enjoy attending more social events like you once did because you are not coughing as often, and when you do cough, you can excuse yourself to clear mucus efficiently, so you are able to get back to the festivities.
Improves stamina and energy
Your lack of energy may not have to do with your age at all. As we age we often find reasons to blame our tiredness on the fact that we are getting older. However, this is not always the case and if you are willing to accept that reality, it's time to take a look at your oxygen levels.
Without the proper exchange of gases, oxygen and carbon dioxide, your body can't get the oxygen it needs. When your body is low on oxygen, you will feel tired and fatigue comes more quickly when your lungs can't properly inhale and exhale air. You'll develop low blood oxygen levels, a condition called hypoxemia, which is one of the main signs associated with COPD that indicates you need oxygen therapy.
Your doctor can perform a series of respiratory tests to see what your breathing capacity is and how well your lungs are functioning. In stages one and two of COPD, your oxygen level may be sufficient enough on their own, and if you stick to a healthy and active lifestyle, you should be able to slow down the progression of your disease from becoming more severe.
Once your lungs require supplemental oxygen therapy, this means that you probably have reduced ability to do daily actives without experiencing severe shortness of breath, your stamina and energy have likely declined to the point where you feel lethargic or even exhausted throughout the day.
While there is no cure for COPD, oxygen therapy is essentially a cure that will boost your stamina and energy levels! Once you get adjusted to the best portable oxygen concentrator designed to fit your needs, you will be able to get back to the sports, hobbies, chores, and other aspects of your life that give you purpose!
Works with you to help improve your exercise tolerance
Exercise is one of the best treatments for slowing down the progression of your COPD. And before you started on oxygen therapy, you probably had no intention of exercising because simple tasks would leave you breathless. Exercise seemed out of the picture.
If you have a lightweight and battery powered portable oxygen concentrator (POC), you can go out for walks and adjust the oxygen level to the appropriate output so that you do not feel as breathless and exhausted while walking.
You can also bring your POC with you to the gym, pulmonary rehabilitation, or anywhere else that you get your daily physical activity in.
And because your blood oxygen levels are more saturated after adjusting to your supplemental oxygen, you will not feel as fatigued and you will be able to build up your exercise tolerance.
This means that you might not be able to walk to the end of the street right now, but if you start walking to and from the kitchen into the living room, and then start down the driveway from your front door, eventually you will have the ability to walk up and down the cul de sac.
By improving your exercise tolerance, you are strengthening your heart, bones, muscle and most importantly your lungs! In order for you muscles to work properly your blood must be capable of delivering oxygen-rich blood to the muscle that you are working out, so in order to do this properly with COPD, supplemental oxygen is a must.
The best portable oxygen concentrators for exercise would be a unit that is lightweight so that you can carry it while you walk, jog, bike, or do aerobics. That being said, one of the lightest portable oxygen concentrator is the Caire Freestyle Comfort, and it only weighs 5 pounds. This POC offers pulse dose oxygen delivery at any rate of 1-5, this means it can deliver anywhere from 210 mil/min (milliliters per minute) to 1050 ml/min of oxygen.
The Freestyle Comfort is a wonderful option for COPD patients that need supplemental oxygen for exercise, and throughout the day and if you do not require more than 1050 ml/min of oxygen.
But many COPD patients require a continuous flow of oxygen to start or continue to exercise, others just require a higher pulse dosage.
In the case of the latter, the Respironic SimplyGO portable oxygen concentrator is an option for people who need a pulse flow settings 1-6 or continuous flow settings 0.5-2.0 LPM. This unit weights almost 10 pounds, which is slightly heavier than the other units we have discussed in this article, but that is nothing to shy away from!
You can use your POC with a portable travel cart, and research has shown the travel cart makes it much easier for a patient to bring their oxygen with them. For example, it can take less energy to pull an 18 pound unit behind you than it takes to carry a 5 pound machine so there's no need to be afraid of the larger machines.
No matter what your oxygen requirements are, a certain amount of exercise is right for you. It is up to you to take the initiatives and start somewhere where you can build up strength and endurance, and with the help of the right oxygen equipment, you can get anywhere!
Strengthens muscles, joints, and bones
Similarly to the section above about exercise, oxygen therapy can help to strengthen your muscles, joints, and bones. Now, it is important to understand that using your portable oxygen concentrator or any form of oxygen therapy will not strength your body on its own, simply by you breathing it in.
However, by adjusting and adapting to your oxygen therapy, this will give you the “tools” you need to be successful in training, exercising, and building strength.
Allows you to travel worry free
While there is no direct “symptom” of COPD that says you cannot travel, the condition does impose a lot of challenges when it comes to travel, whether it's traveling by car, airplane or boat.
The only “cure” for travel with COPD when you need oxygen therapy, is a portable oxygen concentrator. This is because if you have a liquid oxygen tank or a gas cylinder that you rely on most of the day and night, you are not allowed to travel by plane with one of these oxygen tanks.
A portable oxygen concentrator is FAA approved! This means that you can bring your POC on the airplane with you.
The SeQual Eclipse 5 portable oxygen concentrator may be heavier than other POCs like the Inogen One G3, G4, and G5, but this unit is still very easy to travel with and perfect for everyday use. It comes with a wheeled travel cart that makes pulling your concentrator behind you seem effortless.
The travel cart is equipped with oversized wheels, an elevated platform, and a telescopic handle. The oversized wheels and elevated platform make going up curbs and stairs a breeze. They also help protect your concentrator from water when you have to go over puddles or when it’s snowing.
The telescopic handle lets you adjust the travel cart to the height that is most comfortable for you! And if you ever need to store your concentrator the handle slides all the way down and locks. So if you’re traveling you can keep your SeQual on the travel cart and it will still fit underneath the seat in front of you!
If you are eager to get back to traveling, it is time to look into which POC will meet your oxygen requirements.
Helps you sleep more soundly
Oxygen therapy is shown to improve the quality of your sleep. This is because the lack of oxygen can wake you up while you are in the REM cycle of your sleep.
Many people with COPD also have obstructive sleep apnea. Therefore, you probably already use a CPAP or BiPAP machine while you sleep to keep your airways open and keep them from collapsing with every inhale and exhale.
If so it is important to have a POC that is compatible with your CPAP and BiPAP machine.
No matter what your oxygen requirements are at night, LPT medical has the right unit that will work for you, and all of our units can hook up to your CPAP and BiPAP machine. That being said it is very important you talk to your doctor about using oxygen at night, and whether or not this decision is right for you.
Can add years to your life
COPD is a chronic illness, meaning there is no cure, and therefore the disease will progress into a more severe state. Nevertheless, there are plenty of lifestyle changes, treatments, medications, and therapies that will slow down the progression of your disease, thereby adding years to your life.
By far, the most important benefit of long-term oxygen therapy (LTOT) is that it may prolong your life, especially if you have COPD with severe resting hypoxemia (low levels of oxygen in your blood) and/or you use oxygen continuously rather than just at night or sporadically.
A combination of healthy choices and medication will get you very far in slowing down the progression of your COPD.
Life expectancy for people with COPD can be predicted by assessing body mass index (BMI), airway obstruction, dyspnea (Breathlessness), and your exercise capacity. After these value are taken into account, your doctor can give you an average of year you are expected to live
In the end, the average life expectancy for people with COPD is just that—an average estimation. You can exceed expectations by taking control and addressing the factors that you can change.
Relives headaches and nausea
One of the more obvious symptoms oxygen therapy can relieve, is reducing COPD related headaches and nausea.
Headaches and that nauseous feeling are often caused by the lack of oxygen reaching your brain. This goes for everyone and not just people with COPD. Have you hiked a mountain top,or been to a town at high elevation where the air is thinner? At high altitudes there is less oxygen in the air, and therefore less oxygen you can breath in, and in these condition someone might experience “altitude sickness”
Altitude sickness causes someone to feel dizzy, nauseous and will also induce a painful head all, all because your body is not getting the amount of oxygen it is used to when you are at lower elevations. A simple cure is to relax, and drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol.
But if you have COPD, drinking water may help your headache or other symptoms, but not always and not for long. Eventually your headaches will not feel better after drinking water and oxygen therapy is the best solution.
Once these pesky symptoms of COPD induced dyspnea are relieved, you can get back to doing the things you enjoy, rather than being held back by a bad headache or feeling nauseous.
Can help to improve your memory
Several studies show that using oxygen at home for more than 15 hours a day increases quality of life, oxygen therapy has good short-term and long-term effects in people who have COPD.
Using oxygen may also improve confusion and memory problems.
Getting back to the daily life you are used to
We hope this information reaches the people who are afraid that oxygen therapy is going to subject them to the couch, tethered to their oxygen device, because this is simply not true!
In fact, if you take the time and consideration to find the best oxygen device that will fulfill your livelihood goals, while also giving you the oxygen you need day and night, you will live a longer happier life. A life where you do not suffer from shortness of breath, lack of sleep, memory loss and other COPD symptoms.
By using long-term oxygen therapy, you will be able to get back to doing activities and other joys of life that might be taken away due to the debilitating nature of COPD.