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Lung diseases

Does Use of Oxygen Cause a Greater Dependency



My FIL has emphysema and is determined to use the oxygen as little as possible since he believes the more he uses it the more he will become dependent on it. Is it better for him to try not to use the oxygen, or is it better for his overall health to have the oxygen in his system.

He is pretty far advanced. He has a hard time walking across the room without being so short of breath he has to rest. he has a nebulizer and inhalers to help him (which he willing will take the drugs, but is worried about the oxygen!)


He will not become dependent on the oxygen.  The body requires oxygen to function normally.  Chronic low oxygen levels can cause other health problems such as over-production of red blood cells (polycythemia), increased pressures in the arteries in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension) and others.  There are ongoing studies to evaluate oxygen use in COPD (emphysema or chronic bronchitis) patients to better understand if there is a specific amount of time oxygen should be worn, etc.  Until we have more definitive answers, we encourage patients to wear oxygen when their oxygen levels are below 88%.  For some people that is all the time; for others that is only when they are walking or sleeping.  Your health provider will perform testing to determine the situations in which the oxygen is needed. 

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Response by:

Cathy   Benninger, RN, MS, APRN, C-AE Cathy Benninger, RN, MS, APRN, C-AE
Clinical Assistant Professor
Director, OSU Asthma Center Educational Program
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University