Oxygen Therapy Side Effects

The More Common Side Effects Of Oxygen Therapy

Even more common side effects of oxygen therapy are rarely encountered and seldom serious, but on occasion these side effects can be become serious, and in certain instances lethal. There are two basic forms of oxygen therapy, one being where concentrated oxygen is delivered to a patient through a breathing tube to supplement what is an inadequate supply of oxygen provided in the natural environment. This type of therapy is quite commonly applied to those having lung problems or suffering from a disease or disorder, such as pneumonia, that may make normal breathing difficult.

Another type of oxygen therapy is called hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used when insufficient oxygen is being transported by the blood plasma due to limitations imposed by the oxygen binding capacity of the red blood cells. Providing oxygen at pressures greater than atmospheric pressure, hence the term hyperbaric, serves to dramatically increase the capability of the bloodstream to transport oxygen. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy side effects are, as might be expected, somewhat different than the side effects that may be encountered when oxygen is supplied at normal atmospheric pressure.

One of the more common side effects of oxygen therapy occurs when the oxygen source itself, usually a cylinder, has in some way become contaminated with a foreign gas or substance, or the filters, which are designed to filter out contaminants, become dirty or contaminated. When home oxygen therapy is being practiced and the flow of oxygen is purposefully or inadvertently altered, either making the mix too rich or too lean, side effects due to either a lack of needed oxygen or too high a concentration of oxygen are possible.

Those who have certain diseases or disorders may suffer undesirable side effects if undergoing oxygen therapy. In general, oxygen therapy is not prescribed for those suffering form asthmatic conditions, upper respiratory tract infections, or suffering from problems in the middle ear.

HBOT - Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), is conducted in special compression chambers. As this method drastically increases the partial pressure of oxygen in the body's tissues, one of the side effects is similar to a diving disorder such as experiencing the bends, where excess oxygen is trapped in the tissues of the body, making it necessary for the patient to undergo a slow decompression. One of the more common side effects of HBOT is associated with oxygen toxicity. Although we require oxygen to survive, it is nevertheless a toxic element in concentrated form. One of the effects of oxygen toxicity is blurred vision due to an expansion of the cornea of the eye, although this usually clears up within a few days or weeks following a therapy session. HBOT is believed in some circles to contribute to a more rapid development of cataracts in some individuals.

The Rewards Outweigh The Risks - Generally speaking, the rewards of oxygen therapy far outweigh the risks. Conventional oxygen therapy finds many uses, while hyperbaric oxygen therapy is often used to counteract the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning, severe trauma including crush injuries, radiation injury to soft tissues, severe anemia, burns, skin grafts, and certain diabetic conditions. Careful administration of oxygen, whether it be from an oxygen cylinder in the home, from an oxygen supply in the hospital, or oxygen administered in an HBOT chamber or capsule, rarely results in problems, making the side effects of oxygen therapy seldom a cause for concern. It probably bears mentioning that one needs to be careful about smoking, or creating a spark near someone who is being given concentrated or pure oxygen, as the danger of fire can be significant, and can cause unintended consequences not only to the patient but to others in the immediate vicinity as well.