COPD and Oxygen Therapy

COPD, which is short for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is a disease which affects the lungs. It also affects how much oxygen we breathe in, and carbon dioxide we breathe out. Around 1.2 million people have had the diagnosis of COPD, but the actual number may be a lot higher. The main causes of COPD include air pollution and particulate work environments; however, these are nowhere near as dangerous as smoking. It is the second most commonly diagnosed lung condition/disease in the UK – with asthma taking the top spot.

The oxygen saturation of people with COPD should normally sit between 88 and 92%, compared to 95-100% for people without this disease. The saturation should not be high above this for COPD patients, as this could cause them to suffer from hyperoxic hypercapnia. Hypercapnia is where there is a build-up of carbon dioxide in the body, and happens due to hyperoxia. This is where the body uses more oxygen to form carbon dioxide. Due to the COPD, the patients cannot clear this excess carbon dioxide, which makes the blood more acidic. This leads to respiratory acidosis, and in serious cases, this can cause death. Therefore, someone must regularly check the oxygen saturation levels.

This can be done using specific oxygen concentrations during oxygen therapy with the help of venturi masks, and regularly checking oxygen saturations. Venturi masks are very effective at handling this.

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