Oxygen in the HOME
If you have ever experienced difficulty breathing, or if you have lung or heart problem, you have probably wondered about using oxygen at home.
Your physician has determined, based on your symptoms, physical examination and laboratory test, that you may benefit from the use of oxygen at home.
Following are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the use of oxygen in the home.
What is oxygen?
Oxygen is a colorless, tasteless, odorless gas that is necessary for life. When we take a breath, we draw air containing 21% oxygen into our lungs. The oxygen passes from our lungs into our bloodstream, where it is carried in the red blood cells to all the organs and tissues of our bodies. Oxygen is needed by our organs and tissues to convert the food we eat into heat and energy, to maintain life.
How is oxygen made and stored?
There are three common methods for obtaining pure oxygen:
1. Air is cooled and compressed until it becomes a liquid. Then as the liquid air warms, the oxygen "boils" off and is collected. It is then re-cooled and compressed into liquid oxygen and stored in "thermos bottles" known as reservoirs.
2. The oxygen gas is compressed and stored in heavy steel pressurized tanks.
3. Room air is pumped through a fine filter that traps all but the oxygen, which is allowed to pass through. This is known as an oxygen concentrator or oxygen enricher.
How do I use home oxygen?
A small, adjustable plastic tube (called a nasal cannula), worn much as you would wear eye glasses, is placed under the nose. This tubing, through which the oxygen will flow, is attached to the oxygen tank.
How do I go about ordering oxygen once my physician prescribes it?
Your physician, respiratory therapist, social worker, or nurse may recommend an oxygen supplier to you, or you may look in the yellow pages under "Oxygen." When selecting an oxygen supplier, consider the following:
* Will the company deliver and install the equipment?
* Does the company have a delivery service 24 hours a day? Seven days a week?
* Does the company provide information on the use and cleaning of the equipment?
* Is a nurse or therapist available to answer your questions and come to your home if necessary?
* Will the company bill Medicare or your insurance for you? How much does home oxygen cost?
Will Medicare and/or my insurance pay for it?
The cost can vary greatly depending on your prescription. There is a variety of oxygen equipment available. Your physician decides how much oxygen you need. The supplier will help you select the most economical system to meet your needs and activities, and should be able to give you an approximate monthly cost.
Medicare will pay 80% of approved expenses. Many private insurance carriers also pay for oxygen within the limits of their policies. To be sure your policy does cover home oxygen, call your claims representative.
Why do I need supplemental oxygen?
Normally oxygen passes readily from the lungs into the bloodstream and is pumped by the heart to all parts of the body. When lung disease occurs, oxygen may not be able to pass as readily into the bloodstream. When the heart is diseased, it may not be able to pump as much oxygen-carrying blood.
Either of these situations can result in not enough oxygen reaching the organs and tissues of the body, preventing them from functioning properly. This can cause many undesirable effects, such as decreased ability to exercise, difficulty breathing, fatigue, confusion, loss of memory, etc. Breathing supplemental oxygen increases the amount of oxygen that passes into the bloodstream and is carried to the organs and tissues.
Oxygen in the Home
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