What is an Oxygen Treatment?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2019
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An oxygen treatment is a therapy or procedure used to deliver oxygen to the body. It is often used for people who have chronic lung conditions that make getting an adequate amount of oxygen difficult. Sometimes it is used in the treatment of short-term, or acute, illnesses that have left patients without adequate oxygen intake. Less frequently, oxygen treatments are used to help heal wounds.

When a person inhales air, his body gets oxygen it needs for normal body function. A healthy person’s lungs deliver the amount of oxygen his body needs to his blood. If a person is ill or can’t get enough oxygen for some other reason, he usually feels tired, less alert, and short of breath. An oxygen treatment can help provide the oxygen the body needs, relieving symptoms and even extending life, in some cases.

Oxygen treatments are used in hospitals, for emergency medical treatments on the way to the hospital, and in home therapy. For example, a pneumonia patient may have an oxygen treatment during a hospital stay, or emergency medical personnel may administer oxygen to an ill patient on the way to the hospital. At home, a patient with a chronic lung disease may give himself oxygen treatments on a regular basis.


Sometimes oxygen treatments are delivered through a tube, called a nasal cannula, that has ends that are inserted into a patient’s nose. Special face masks may be used to deliver oxygen as well. There are different types of masks used for oxygen treatments, but they typically cover the patient’s nose and mouth and have a tube through which oxygen flows. The type of device used to deliver oxygen may depend on a number of factors, including whether or not the patient can breathe on his own, whether high or low oxygen flow is required, and the concentration of oxygen needed to be delivered.

In preparation for oxygen treatment use, oxygen may be stored in its liquid form in chilled tanks. When in use, the liquid is converted to a gas form that the user can inhale. Sometimes oxygen is stored in a gas cylinder in compressed-gas form. Gas cylinders provide a constant flow of oxygen and may be equipped with devices that regulate flow, releasing oxygen only when the patient inhales. Oxygen may also be delivered through oxygen concentrators, which are powered by electricity, operating and storing oxygen so it’s ready when the patient needs it.



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