You can receive oxygen therapy from tubes resting in your nose, a face mask, or a tube placed in your trachea, or windpipe. This treatment increases the amount of oxygen your lungs receive and deliver to your blood. Oxygen therapy may be prescribed for you when you have a condition that causes your blood oxygen levels to be too low. Low blood oxygen may make you feel short of breath, tired, or confused, and can damage your body.
Oxygen therapy can be given for a short or long period of time in the hospital, another medical setting, or at home. Oxygen is stored as a gas or liquid in special tanks. These tanks can be delivered to your home and contain a certain amount of oxygen that will require refills. Another device for use at home is an oxygen concentrator, which pulls oxygen out of the air for immediate use. Because oxygen concentrators do not require refills, they won’t run out of oxygen. Portable tanks and oxygen concentrators may make it easier for you to move around while using your therapy.
Oxygen poses a fire risk, so you should never smoke or use flammable materials when using oxygen. You may experience side effects from this treatment, such as a dry or bloody nose, tiredness, and morning headaches. Oxygen therapy is generally safe.
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The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) leads or sponsors many studies aimed at preventing, diagnosing, and treating heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders.