Oxygen therapy is administered in a variety of ways depending upon the circumstance, the patient’s requirements and the devices used. It is required in order to provide additional oxygen to the patient and to increase the level of oxygen in the body needed by your body to function.
In most cases the oxygen first passes through a pressure regulator which controls the oxygen pressure as it passes from an oxygen cylinder to the device which is at a lower pressure. Once the oxygen is at this lower pressure, the flow of the oxygen can be controlled by a flow-meter and is measured in litres of oxygen per minute (lpm). The usual flow rate for most devices is between 0 and 15 lpm but can be as high as 25 lpm in some units. Many flow-meters are based on a ‘Thorpe tube’ design which can be set to ‘flush’ which is useful in an emergency situation.
In room air the content of oxygen is only 21%, which although is adequate for healthy individuals, needs to be increased to help those with certain diseases or medical conditions in order to increase the oxygen that manages to get through to their blood stream. Usually increasing the oxygen to 30-35% is enough to make a significant difference and this can be achieved using a nasal cannula, a thin tube with an individual tube for each nostril. This can provide the oxygen at a low flow rate (0.25 to 6 lpm) to achieve an oxygen level of 24-40%.
To achieve higher oxygen concentrations various face masks can be used including a simple face mask, which can deliver oxygen at 5-15 lpm to achieve 28-50% oxygen levels. The Venturi mask can provide oxygen up to 40% and a partial re-breathing mask, which includes a reservoir bag attached to it can provide oxygen at between 40% and 70% concentration.
For patients requiring 100% oxygen the most common device is the non-breather or reservoir mask. This is similar to the re-breathing mask but has a number of valves to stop air that has been exhaled from the lungs from returning to the bag. At a flow rate of 10 lpm up to 80% oxygen levels can be achieved.
For patients requiring the therapy on a constant long-term basis, the oxygen can be warmed and humidified before administration through the nasal cannula to prevent irritation and dryness.
If a patient cannot breathe independently then positive pressure may be needed to force air into the lungs, which is provided by complex artificial respirator machines such as ventilators or a continuous positive airway pressure machine.
Oxygen surrounds us and is fundamental for life and yet we can take it for granted and not realise that it’s a lot more than just a component of the air.
- Our atmosphere today contains around 21 percent oxygen. About 300 million years ago oxygen levels reached 35 percent and insects were able to grow super-large- think dragonflies with the wingspans of hawks.
- Oxygen does not actually burn as people think it does. However it does support the combustion of other substances and without a supply of oxygen, combustion ceases. If you think about it, if oxygen itself actually burnt, simply striking a match would be enough to burn all of the oxygen in our planet’s atmosphere.
- Almost two-thirds of the weight of living things comes from oxygen, mainly because living things contain a lot of water and 88.9 percent of water’s weight comes from oxygen.
- Oxygen (O2) is very unstable in our planet’s atmosphere as it is very reactive and must be constantly replenished by photosynthesis in green plants. Without plant life, our atmosphere would contain almost no oxygen. If we discover any other planets with atmospheres rich in oxygen, we will know that life is almost certainly present on these planets as significant quantities of oxygen will only exist on planets when it is released by living things.
- The Northern (and Southern) Lights: The green and dark-red colours in the aurora Borealis (and Australis) are caused by oxygen atoms. Highly energetic electrons from the solar wind split oxygen molecules high in earth’s atmosphere into excited, high energy atoms. These atoms lose energy by emitting photons, producing awe-inspiring light shows. These usually occur in the polar regions because solar electrons will accelerate along our planet’s magnetic field lines until they hit the atmosphere in the polar regions.
- A common urban myth is that hyperventilation is caused by breathing in too much oxygen. When we hyperventilate, we breathe too quickly, and this can lead to symptoms such as headache, light-headedness, dizziness, chest pains, tingling, slurred speech, fainting and spasms. Hyperventilation actually causes us to get rid of too much carbon dioxide from our bodies. The trouble with this is that we need carbon dioxide in our blood to stop it from becoming too alkaline. When we hyperventilate, we lose too much carbon dioxide, which disturbs the balance of substances in our blood, causing its pH to increase; this causes the blood vessels leading to our brains to get narrower, slowing the blood flow and decreasing the amount of oxygen reaching vital organs, leading to the symptoms of hyperventilation.
- As a gas, oxygen is clear. However as a liquid, it’s pale blue. If you’ve ever wondered what swimming in a pool of liquid oxygen would be like, the answer is very, very cold,(according to Carl Zorn of the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility). Oxygen must get down to minus 297.3 F (minus 183.0 C) to liquefy, so frostbite would be a bit of a problem.
During an asthma attack, the smooth muscles of the bronchi contract, causing them to narrow, and the tissues lining the airways swell due to inflammation and mucus secretion into the airways. The top layer of the airway lining can become damaged and shed cells, further narrowing the diameter of the airway. A narrower airway requires the person to exert more effort to move the same amount of air in and out of the lungs. In asthma, the narrowing is reversible, meaning that with appropriate treatment or on their own, the muscular contractions of the airways stop, and the inflammation resolves so that the airways widen again, and the airflow into and out of the lungs returns to normal.
The airways narrow in response to stimuli that usually do not affect the airways in normal lungs (triggers). Such triggers include:
Exercise, stress, and anxiety
Many inhaled allergens can trigger an asthma attack, including pollens, particles from dust mites, body secretions from cockroaches, particles from feathers, and animal dander. These allergens combine with immunoglobulin E (IgE, a type of antibody) on the surface of mast cells to trigger the release of asthma-causing chemicals from these cells. (This type of asthma is called allergic asthma.) Although food allergies induce asthma only rarely, certain foods (such as shellfish and peanuts) can induce severe attacks in people who are sensitive to these foods.
Infectious triggers are usually viral respiratory infections, such as colds, bronchitis, and sometimes pneumonia.
Irritants that can provoke an asthma attack include smoke from tobacco, marijuana products, or cocaine, fumes (such as from perfumes, cleaning products, air pollution), cold air, and stomach acid in the airways caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Additionally, people who have asthma can develop bronchoconstriction when exercising. Stress and anxiety can trigger mast cells to release histamine and leukotrienes and stimulate the vagus nerve (which connects to the airway smooth muscle), which then contracts and narrows the bronchi.
Asthma attacks can vary in frequency and severity. Some people are symptom-free most of the time, with only an occasional, brief, mild episode. Other people cough and wheeze most of the time and have more frequent and severe attacks.
An asthma attack may begin suddenly with wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. At other times, an asthma attack may come on slowly with gradually worsening symptoms. In either case, people with asthma usually first notice shortness of breath, coughing, or chest tightness. The attack may be over in minutes, or it may last for hours or days. Itching on the chest or neck may be an early symptom, especially in children. A dry cough at night or while exercising may be the only symptom.
During an asthma attack, shortness of breath may become severe, creating a feeling of severe anxiety. The person instinctively sits upright and leans forward, using the neck and chest muscles to help in breathing, but still struggles for air. Sweating is a common reaction to the effort and anxiety. The pulse usually quickens, and the person may feel a pounding in the chest.
In a very severe asthma attack, a person is able to say only a few words without stopping to take a breath. Wheezing may diminish, however, because hardly any air is moving in and out of the lungs. Confusion, lethargy, and a blue skin color are signs that the person’s oxygen supply is severely limited, and emergency treatment is needed. Usually, a person recovers completely with appropriate treatment, even from a severe asthma attack. Rarely, some people develop attacks so quickly that they may lose consciousness before they can give themselves effective therapy. Such people should wear a medical alert bracelet and carry a cellular phone to call for emergency medical assistance. Research suggests a strong link between stress and asthmatic symptoms and experts suggest better treatment, including confident, self management of the condition, could improve the quality of life for asthmatics. The close links between stress and asthma are clear given the potential consequences of untreated attacks.
An asthma attack can be frightening, both to the person experiencing it and to others around. Even when relatively mild, the symptoms provoke anxiety and alarm. A severe asthma attack is a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate, skilled, professional care. If not treated adequately and quickly, a severe asthma attack can cause death.
People who have a mild asthma attack are usually able to treat it without assistance from a health care practitioner. Typically, they use an inhaler to deliver a dose of a short-acting beta-adrenergic drug such as albuterol , move into fresh air (away from cigarette smoke or other irritants), and sit down and rest.
People who have severe symptoms should typically go to an emergency department. For severe attacks, doctors give frequent (or sometimes continuous) treatment using inhaled beta-adrenergic drugs and sometimes anticholinergic drugs. Supplemental oxygen is also given immediately so as to increase the percentage level of oxygen being breathed in to help raise oxygen levels in the blood.
Part two to be continued….
1. Portable oxygen concentrators…
2. Oxygenworldwide has a huge network on a worldwide scale
3. OxygenWorldwide has a team of experts on hand prior to travel and during your holiday (SOS)
4. There are a wide selection of equipment types suitable for most oxygen patients
5. OxygenWorldwide have a multilingual team of staff
Travelling with oxygen has become much easier with the development of portable oxygen concentrators (POCs). These devices run on a battery pack, can be recharged, plugged into the wall or a cigarette lighter in a car, and can be taken on airplanes.
There are several makes and models, with widely differing features, so it is important to choose the one that is best for you, that delivers enough oxygen to keep your saturation 90 percent or greater at rest and with activity.
Some tips for air travel with POC’s:
· Start making arrangements with the airline well ahead of time to find out which POC is allowed. Many airlines list accepted manufacturers and brands on their websites.
· Allow plenty of extra time for check-in.
· Carry several extra battery packs. FAA regulations require enough battery time to cover 150 percent of the flight time.
· POC’s and battery packs can be rented.
· Carry an extra three-way plug for recharging your POC in the airport. People often need to recharge their electronic equipment in the airport during layovers, and this will help assure that you will be able to recharge yours.
· POC’s are exempt from the carry-on allowance.
· Carry a prescription for oxygen, signed by your doctor.
For more information about oxygen supply whilst on holiday please enquire now at www.oxygenworldwide.com and register for our SOS back up service.
Just a few grains of the newly synthesized material could allow us to stay underwater without scuba tanks
Using specially synthesized crystalline materials, scientists from the University of Southern Denmark have created a substance that is able to absorb and store oxygen in such high concentrations that just one bucketful is enough to remove all of the oxygen in a room. The substance is also able to release the stored oxygen in a controlled manner when it is needed, so just a few grains could replace the need for divers to carry bulky scuba tanks.
The key component of the new material is the element cobalt, which is bound in a specially designed organic molecule. In standard form – and depending on the available oxygen content, the ambient temperature, and the barometric pressure – the absorption of oxygen by the material from its surroundings may take anything from seconds to days.
“An important aspect of this new material is that it does not react irreversibly with oxygen – even though it absorbs oxygen in a so-called selective chemisorptive process,” said Professor Christine McKenzie from the University of Southern Denmark. “The material is both a sensor, and a container for oxygen – we can use it to bind, store, and transport oxygen – like a solid artificial hemoglobin.”
Varying the constituent structure of the material can also bind and release oxygen at different rates. This means it could be used to regulate oxygen supply in fuel cells or create devices like face masks that use layers of the material to provide pure oxygen to a person directly from the air, without the need of other equipment.
Even more interestingly, the material may also be configured in a device that could absorb oxygen directly from water and allow a diver to stay submerged for long periods of time, without the need for bulky air tanks.
“This could be valuable for lung patients who today must carry heavy oxygen tanks with them,” explains Professor McKenzie. “But also divers may one day be able to leave the oxygen tanks at home and instead get oxygen from this material as it ‘filters’ and concentrates oxygen from surrounding air or water. A few grains contain enough oxygen for one breath, and as the material can absorb oxygen from the water around the diver and supply the diver with it, the diver will not need to bring more than these few grains.”
Using x-ray diffraction techniques to peer inside the atomic arrangement of the material when it had been filled with oxygen, the scientists realized that once the oxygen has been absorbed it can be stored in the material until it is released by heating the material gently or subjecting it to a vacuum.
“We see release of oxygen when we heat up the material, and we have also seen it when we apply vacuum,” said Professor McKenzie. “We are now wondering if light can also be used as a trigger for the material to release oxygen – this has prospects in the growing field of artificial photosynthesis.”
There’s no word as yet on any possible commercial production or public availability of the material.
The research was published in the journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Chemical Science.
Source: University of Southern Denmark.
The government has issued health warnings due to high levels of air pollution spreading across England this week.
The pollution is a mix of local and European emissions and dust from the Sahara desert, and is affecting parts of southern England, the Midlands and East Anglia.
The elderly and those with lung or heart disease are urged to avoid strenuous exercise outside.
British Lung Foundation honorary medical adviser Dr Keith Prowse spoke today about the implications of high levels of pollution for people with lung disease.
“Air pollution can have the greatest impact on people with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma, worsening symptoms such as coughing and breathlessness. The dust from the Sahara that we are seeing at the moment are worsening many local air pollution levels.
“When levels of air pollution are high, people with these conditions, or anyone else who finds themselves coughing or wheezing in times of high pollution, should avoid strenuous exercise outdoors and are better off trying to exercise away from pollution hotspots, such as busy roads or during rush hour.
“People who use a reliever inhaler should make sure that they carry it with them. If they feel that their conditions are worsening then they should contact their GPs.”
This is supposed to only last a few days but was high risk for people with asthma and other respiratory conditions.