Oxygen is the eighth element on the periodic table. It’s the third most abundant element in the universe. It’s also one of the most necessary components to your basic life, even more important than food and water. Every cell in your body requires oxygen to function.
You get oxygen from the air that you breathe. Your lungs absorb the oxygen, and red blood cells passing through the lungs take that oxygen and transport it to every corner of your body. The process yields carbon dioxide as a byproduct, which is transported back to your lungs that you then breathe out.
Your body has natural mechanisms designed to balance your blood oxygen levels, ensuring that your red blood cell will always have enough oxygen. It’s why you may breathe deeper or heavier if you’re performing intense aerobic exercises or at a higher altitude. However, even with these mechanisms in place, certain health conditions may contribute to low blood oxygen levels.
Oxygen therapy is a growing field of medical treatment designed to increase your oxygen level and improve your general health. There are different types of ˚oxygen therapy and these offer a wide range of applications and benefits. Learn more about oxygen therapy benefits below.
What is Oxygen Therapy?
Oxygen therapy is an umbrella term for a variety of medical treatments and strategies that focus on delivering oxygen into your body. This can range from breathing devices that aid your breathing to injections and blood treatments to increase oxygenation.
Low oxygen in your blood can make you feel tired, confused, and short of breath. Ongoing low blood oxygen may also cause damage to tissue and organs. Some studies suggest that low oxygen may also contribute to the growth of tumors and the proliferation of cancer cells.
Oxygen Therapy Benefits and Applications
Now that we know what oxygen therapy is, let’s find out its advantages. Oxygen therapy offers a variety of health benefits and applications that can address specific problems and promote your overall health. It also appears in different forms, allowing for customized treatments to fit your specific needs.
It Helps You Breathe
Oxygen makes up about 21 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere. For the average person with healthy lungs, that is plenty of oxygen to maintain a healthy living. However, certain health conditions can prevent some people from getting enough oxygen from the air alone. There are numerous conditions that affect the lungs or otherwise may prevent you from getting enough oxygen to your blood, including:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Sleep apnea
- Cystic fibrosis
- Late-stage heart failure
- Severe asthma attacks
This is where oxygen therapy, in the form of supplemental oxygen, is a viable treatment option. Supplemental oxygen provides you with extra oxygen along with the air that you normally breathe. This concentrated oxygen can come from a tank of oxygen or via an oxygen concentrator, which pulls oxygen from the air. You then breathe the oxygen in through a mask, nose tubes (cannula), or a special tent that envelops you in oxygen.
Supplemental oxygen therapy is highly flexible. It can be provided as short-term or long-term oxygen therapy, and it can be administered at home or in a health care setting. Oxygen tanks and oxygen concentrators are available in portable forms, allowing you to receive the therapy while going about your day.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is another treatment that involves breathing in pure oxygen inside a pressurized chamber. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy benefits those with decompression sickness, burns, and more. Meanwhile, a variation of this called mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy still uses the chamber but at a lower oxygen level.
It’s no surprise that helping a person breathe naturally increases their survival. Using supplemental oxygen can prevent heart failure in people with lung or breathing issues. Supplemental oxygen can also just provide better comfort all around. It may improve sleep quality and allows you to maintain your everyday activities with little to no obstruction.
Improved Exercise Tolerance
Breathing difficulties can naturally put a damper on your ability to exercise. Oxygen allows your heart and your muscles to work hard during workouts. Studies show that supplemental oxygen significantly improved exercise tolerance among patients with COPD.
Reduced Cancer Symptoms
More research is being done to look into the potential benefits of oxygen therapy for cancer and how it reduces cancer symptoms. Studies suggest that tumor cells actually thrive in oxygen-starved environments. Low oxygen levels are believed to give tumor cells an advantage in proliferating and invading neighboring tissues and organs, allowing cancer cells to metastasize more easily.
There are a variety of potential oxygen therapies for reducing cancer symptoms. Ozone therapy is one of the most common, and it comes in a variety of forms. So, what is Ozone therapy? It involves delivering ozone into the body to increase oxygenation. Ozone is best known for the layer that makes up part of the Earth’s stratosphere, but it is simply a compound comprising three oxygen atoms.
The three main forms of ozone therapy are ozone UVB therapy, ozone autohemotherapy, and ozone rectal insufflation. Ozone UVB therapy and ozone autohemotherapy both involves using samples of your own blood. With ozone UVB, a doctor removes some of your blood and exposes it to ultraviolet light. This causes an oxidative reaction that results in the formation of ozone in the blood. The blood is then reinjected into your body. With ozone autohemotherapy, the doctor simply injects ozone directly into a blood sample before reintroducing it into your bloodstream.
Ozone rectal insufflation introduces ozone directly into your body via your rectum. Your rectal walls are porous and good at absorbing compounds. Inserting ozone into the rectum potentially allows for faster, more efficient absorption into the bloodstream via the rectal walls.
Oxygen is a natural element, and it’s one that your body needs. While too much of anything can be a problem, oxygen therapy is a relatively safe process when performed by healthcare professionals. It presents few side effects, if any, and presents no severe risks to your health.
One of the biggest benefits of oxygen therapy is that it is non-invasive. That means that it does not require any surgical procedures, incisions, or anesthetic. That also eliminates the need for preparation or recovery. There is no recovery period or downtime, which allows you to continue with your everyday activities immediately.
Oxygen therapy may support healing, reduce the symptoms of certain illnesses, and promote your general health. Oxygen therapy is a growing field, and its potential applications and benefits continue to expand with ongoing research. If you believe that you may benefit from oxygen therapy, consult your doctor to determine the best form of oxygen therapy for your needs.
At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.