Oxygen Therapy for COPD

Download the Oxygen Therapy – What You Need to Know PDF.


There are changes that occur in the lungs of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) patients. Two large changes are:

  • Narrowing of the airways
  • Damage of lung tissue

These changes make it harder for patients to breathe. The amount of oxygen that reaches the blood is not enough to meet the body’s needs. Oxygen therapy can help control this problem.

Signs and symptoms

There are signs and symptoms that should alert patients to the possibility of needing supplemental oxygen and may prompt them to visit a healthcare provider. These signs and symptoms are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Decreased exercise tolerance
  • Fatigue and dizziness

Testing oxygen levels

Your healthcare provider will be able to tell if someone needs supplemental oxygen by testing the blood oxygen level.

Benefits of oxygen

More than 15 hours per day of oxygen therapy in patients with chronic respiratory failure has been shown to increase survival and improve quality of life. Oxygen therapy also improves exercise capability, sleep, and mental performance.

Types of oxygen systems

Oxygen concentrator

  • The most commonly used system at home.
  • It produces oxygen by concentrating the oxygen that is already in the air and eliminating other gases.
  • A portable version is available that allows user flexibility outside of the home.

Compressed oxygen cylinders

  • Small enough to be carried in small side packs.
  • Weigh less than eight pounds.

Liquid oxygen systems

  • Allows larger amounts of oxygen to be stored in smaller, more convenient containers than compressed oxygen.
  • Cannot be kept for a long time because it will evaporate.


This content is provided for informational purposes only and does not substitute for medical advice.