How Oxygen Can Help
Hi, I’m Chris Garvey, Nurse Practitioner Pulmonary Rehabilitation at the University of California Medical Center in San Francisco.
If you’re watching this, your doctor may have prescribed supplemental oxygen for your idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF.
This video will explain what that involves—and how supplemental oxygen can help you.
We all know that oxygen is essential for life.
Once in our bloodstream, it is converted into energy to help our organs function properly.
When a healthy person without IPF breathes, they get enough oxygen to sustain good health.
But when you have IPF, inflammation and scarring can limit the transfer of oxygen to your blood.
With a reduced supply of oxygen, your organs, including your brain, and heart may lack adequate oxygen to be able to function optimally.
To assess your needs, your doctor will measure your blood oxygen level using a small device that fits on your finger called a pulse oximeter. If it is below 88%, oxygen therapy is often normally recommended.
Your prescription may specify how much oxygen you should get and when. Make sure that you understand your prescribed oxygen flow rate and hours of use. Pulmonary rehabilitation can be an invaluable resource for information and guidance when it comes to understanding oxygen use—make sure to inquire with your doctor if they haven’t recommended it already.
You may want to purchase a pulse oximeter for your ongoing use, so that you can keep track of your oxygen levels. You can use a chart or notebook to record and track your results.
Unless you measure it, you don’t always know when your blood oxygen level has fallen.
And having too little oxygen can strain your heart and brain.
In fact, clinical studies suggest that in some with low oxygen levels, long-term supplemental oxygen may help you live longer.
Remember, however, that shortness of breath will not resolve with oxygen therapy; although it may help you feel better.
It’s important to be proactive and talk to your doctor about your pulse oximeter results—that way they can make sure that you are getting enough oxygen. Remember, you are your own best advocate when it comes to managing your IPF.
All this new information and equipment may seem challenging at first, and it’s normal to feel confused and overwhelmed—but proper use of supplemental oxygen is critical to managing your IPF. Make sure to ask your doctor about pulmonary rehabilitation if they haven’t recommended it already—your rehabilitation therapist will be able to help you figure out a solution that works best for you, as well as answer any questions you may have.
Work with your doctor and follow their instructions to manage your IPF, because staying active and socializing with others are key to a healthy lifestyle. Remember, oxygen is not addictive, it is important for life. Thank you for watching, I hope this video will help you understand the importance of supplemental oxygen.
Learn how oxygen therapy can help to manage the symptoms of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a common type of interstitial lung disease (ILD), from a nurse practitioner who specializes in pulmonary rehabilitation.
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*Lungs&You® does not provide medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider if you have specific questions about your health.