It is well known that oxygen therapy can reverse the negative effects of low oxygen levels. It greatly improves survival. Delivering oxygen to COPD patients who need it provides two important benefits: 1) It decreases shortness of breath, 2) It prevents the damage of low oxygen levels, e.g. heart failure. Studies of patients with severe COPD have shown a direct link between these positive effects and the number of hours per day that oxygen therapy is given. One study compared patients who got 12 hours of oxygen therapy per day with those who got oxygen for 19 hours per day. This study showed that for both groups the negative effects of low oxygen were reversed. Also, lung function was improved. Survival rates were increased. However, these good results were even better for the patients who got oxygen for longer each day.
Oxygen therapy allows for increased activity and exercise with less shortness of breath. The improvement in shortness of breath is not directly due to the higher blood oxygen levels. It is due to the ability of muscle to continue to use oxygen as fuel. It is the blood’s carbon dioxide level that controls the amount of shortness of breath that someone feels. Using oxygen allows people to exercise longer and harder. This leads to better overall fitness and muscle power.
Oxygen therapy also helps with thinking and remembering. It helps mental alertness, physical stamina, mood and the ability to have restful sleep. Truly, the benefits of oxygen therapy are many and profound.