The medical and technical marvels of the world today would lead us to believe that there would be a far better system for oxygen users. But then, like a cure for disease, it would sure cut into profits.
I am sure we all know someone or more than one someone on oxygen. They are not all old folks or smokers either. There are a variety of reasons that someone may end up on oxygen.
Generally, people who end up on oxygen do so because of lung conditions that prevents the lungs from absorbing oxygen. Some of the reasons are COPD, pneumonia, asthma, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, underdeveloped lungs in newborns, heart failure, cystic fibrosis, sleep apnea, lung disease and trauma to the respirtory system that can be due to various things such as exposure to black mold.
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Your blood oxygen level is a measure of how much oxygen your red blood cells are carrying. Maintaining the precise balance of oxygen-saturated blood is vital to your health.
My Mom was on oxygen for years up to her passing. I have another family member on oxygen and I have friends on oxygen. The system in place for these people is very inadequate. If they are dependent on their insurance to cover the bulk of the cost they are -pretty much – forced to live a very confined life -and- generally for the rest of their life. When we consider all the technology today it begs the question – WHY?? Why is there not a better system to allow these people to travel. And by travel I mean just the simple trip to the grocery store or a dinner out.
The whole oxygen thing is complex. The machines even more complex. The testing to qualify for oxygen is an eye rolling affair – but you must “qualify” for your insurance to pay. It can take weeks to a month or more to get into a doctor and get qualified. All the while you struggle to breath. Let’s take a closer look.
Getting Qualified. You must see your doctor who will have a nurse do a little walking test with you to determine how many “liters” of oxygen you need. Or they may just send you to a Pulmonary doctor to begin with. Even if they do it first, it’s a good bet you will still end up referred to Pulmonary as well. Anyway… They will put that small monitor on your finger (Pulse oximeter) that tells them what your oxygen level is and then you will take a few minutes walk down the hall with the nurse or aide while she monitors the oximeter. This walk is usually 6 minutes.
A normal reading for the average person is typically between 95 and 100 percent. The higher the better. They tell you if you have 94/95 range then you are good to go – even if your having difficulty breathing. Gotta follow the guidelines they say. They have no idea where your levels are during daily activities like housecleaning, gardening, lifting or moving something, etc.. And from what I have learned, they don’t really care or want to hear about that. Lets just walk down the damn hall.
And once again, as the medical matrix usually does, they figure everyone is the same and need to adhere to the “guidelines.” I would bet my bottom dollar that those writing these guidelines are not on oxygen. I really get sick of the “”herd“” mentality but I will save that rant.
Most folks are started on night time oxygen first, because our oxygen levels drop lower at night. And yep — you need to qualify. Your doctor will order the test from a local Oxygen supply company. They will send you a glorified pulse oximeter that you will wear for a night. If your oxygen level drops to 88 or below, you will qualify for night time oxygen.
Put your own pulse oximeter on at home and try a routine day to see where it goes. But guess what? What you get at home does not matter. It must be during that “monitored” little hall walk. BTW you can purchase a pulse oximeter at nearly any pharmacy or online for less than $20. They are handy to have around. They also give your heart rate.
Once the oxygen level is determined, (and you qualify) they decide other things for you. Just at night?, temporary?, daytime?, full time?, and so on.
They also determine how MUCH oxygen you should have. The average range is 1 to 6 liters, but I see they make machines that go to 10 liters. Example: a first time patient who gets put on night time “only” oxygen — is prescribed 1 or 2 liters. Of course — they have no control over that once you have the machine. I suppose you can dial it in to whatever number you want. NOTE: you do not want to fool with that to much thou. You can get very sick and even die from Oxygen poisoning if you get to much. I know someone who, just recently, ended up in the hospital very sick from cranking his machine up too high.
PLEASE continue with Part 2
Resources for this article: I interviewed an oxygen supply company, two companies that sell the portables, talked to several people on oxygen, plus my own experience.
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