Good morning COPD Breathe Strong Community! Today we start our journey today to share our questions, comment, successes, and challenges, we, COPD Providers, Patients, and Caregivers Share!

First of all, I want to thank Jane Martin, BS, LRT, CRT, and Assistant Director of Education, COPD Foundation, and author of “Live Your Life with COPD- 52 Weeks of Health and Hope”, for permission to use her wonderful book as a guiding “road map” and reference for our journey together to BREATHE STRONG and Take Charge of our lives, including COPD. 

Each week we will start with a theme topic to discuss, with daily posts Monday through Friday related to the topic, and each month we will come back in more depth to focus on an aspect of one of our posts. 

This week’s theme is: “The Ten Most Common Questions About Oxygen”. Our Expert Lung Professionals for this topic include:

Francis Adams, MD,  Pulmonologist, New York City, Assistant Clinical Professor of  Clinical Medicine at New York University (At time of publishing of book in 2011.)                

Robert A. Sandhaus, MD, PhD, FCCP, Faculty Member National Jewish Medical Center, Principal Investigator of NIH Alpha1-Antitrypsin Deficiency, Founding Member Board of Directors of AlphaNet and Alpha-1 Foundation

Helen Sorenson, MA, RRT, CPFT, FAARC, Registered Respiratory Therapist, Associate Professor in Department of Respiratory Care, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, Texas

We will hear from Dr. Adams today, Dr. Sandhaus Wednesday, and Helen Sorenson on Thursday. On Friday, I will share a few thoughts regarding “ABCs” of Oxygen from both a historical and current “COPD Breathe Strong” perspective, as a COPD Foundation State Captain and COPD Breathe Strong Coalition Coordinator.

Thank you! Breathe Well! Make it a GREAT Day!

-Bob Sobkowiak

Questions 1-3 with Dr. Frances Adams

1. What is a normal oxygen level?

Oxygen levels are commonly measured by 2 techniques. The first is a blood gas in which a blood sample is taken directly from an artery.  This is the most accurate assessment of oxygen. The normal oxygen level is 80-100 (mmHg). The second technique is bloodless and is called pulse oximetry. The result here is not a direct measurement of oxygen, but rather represents the percentage of hemoglobin that is saturated with oxygen. Hemoglobin is a protein in the blood that carries the oxygen to the tissues. A light sensor is used which is commonly placed on a fingertip. Pulse oximetry is not as accurate as a blood gas and can be influenced by temperature and circulation. The normal oxygen saturation is 95-100%.

2. Can I get addicted to oxygen?

I do not believe that you can become addicted to oxygen in the sense that one becomes compelled to use as it is in alcoholism or heroin addiction. Many patients become oxygen “dependent” because their bodies are unable to function without the use of oxygen supplementation. Oxygen is life sustaining and its use has prolonged life and improved its quality in individuals with inadequate levels.

3. How do I know when I need oxygen?

The most common symptom of a need would be shortness of breath. When oxygen level falls in the blood, nerve receptors in the neck recognize the deficiency and send signals to the brain. The result is the sensation of shortness of breath and in increase in the number of respirations per minute (rapid breathing). When oxygen levels are low a bluish hue might be noticed at the lips or fingertips, which is called cyanosis. Any patient experiencing shortness of breath should have an oxygen measurement.

Tomorrow, we will here from Dr. Sandhaus on Questions 4-6.