patients have been found to have altered their oxygen flow rate at home with the belief that more is good. This is not the case, too much oxygen is just as bad for you as not enough. Your GP will prescribe the amount that you medically need for your body to work optimally and you should not alter it yourself. If you have problems then talk to your GP, altering your oxygen flow rate because you have a temporary case of shortness of breath may just result in you being admitted to hospital with more severe medical problems.
There are many causes as to how too much oxygen can be detremental to your health.
- Gas laws state that increases in the concentration of one gas (i.e Oxygen) will lower the concentration of the others.
Nitrogen makes up 78% of room air and is responsible for the secretion of surfactant which is a lubricating type substance in the lungs which keep the alveoli inflated. Under high concentrations of Oxygen there is a ‘washout’ of Nitrogen and a decrease in this gas would cause less surfactant being produced and the potential collapse of these alveioli and respiratory problems.
- Oxygen is a free radical, highly reactive and can harm the body in high amounts. The body normally fends off free radical attacks from oxygen, radiation, atmosphere, drugs and stress on a daily basis with antioxidants. Cell damage can occur when free radicals outbalance antioxidants, called oxidative stress which is known to be a cause of arthritis, cancer, diabetes, Alzherimer’s and Parkinson’s. An influx of oxygen will cause an influx of free radicals which could cause tissue damage to cells that are already struggling to function and requiring the need for supplemental oxygen.
- Supplemental oxygen has been shown to decrease bloodflow, cause constriction of the arteries and resistance, which also renders vasodilator medication useless.
There are so many medical reasons as to how Oxygen is good for your health but be aware that there are important medical consequences if your Oxygen levels are too high. The importance of keeping your oxygen flow rate set to the prescription your GP gave you and monitoring your equipment to ensure the setting remains constant is very important.
It’s true that too much of a good thing is bad for you!