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Living with Oxygen

Living with Oxygen

Our bodies are fueled in part by the oxygen in the air we breathe. When we breathe it into our lungs the oxygen crosses from the lungs into the blood stream. The blood then takes it to all parts of the body. Our body cells “eat” oxygen and “spit out” carbon dioxide.

This carbon dioxide travels back through the blood stream, crossing from the blood stream into the lungs, where it is breathed out. chILD can get in the way of this process. Some children with chILD have to work harder to breathe. Things like eating, crying and playing can be extra tiring. When children do not have enough oxygen for a short time, it may not harm them. They may have no affects you can see and they may not look different. Sustained low blood oxygen levels, like below 88 percent, can hurt the body. The heart gets larger than normal because it has to work harder to keep oxygen in the body. Some children with chILD need extra oxygen to help them breathe better, grow, and prevent heart strain.

Oxygen is a medicine. If your child needs extra oxygen, the doctor will prescribe the lowest amount that can be used safely. Keeping blood oxygen saturation levels (“sats”) above 92 percent helps ensure that the body has the oxygen it needs. Children with pulmonary hypertension need their blood oxygen levels kept at 95 percent or higher. Some children only use oxygen when they sleep or exert themselves. Others use it all the time. Sometimes the amount of oxygen needed changes as the lungs change.

Living with oxygen can be a challenge. However, with a little planning and education, you can learn to tackle each hurdle head on and help your child lead an active, full life on oxygen. Explore the links below to find out more about living with oxygen. If you can’t find answers here, they can often be found by asking other families how they cope in our patient forum.

Caution: If a fire occurs in the home, oxygen will cause the fire to burn more easily and spread quickly! There should be no smoking, open flames, electric equipment, or sparks within 10 feet of the oxygen source and delivery device. Always keep a fire extinguisher handy. Make sure every person knows how to use it.

More Information
Click Thorax-2005-Balfour-Lynn-76-81 to download the journal article Home Oxygen for Children: Who, How, and When which provides a review of the specific requirements of home oxygen therapy in children.