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Who Needs Oxygen Therapy

Are you short of breath? We can help. Air Liquide Healthcare is Australia’s leading supplier of oxygen therapy services.

Who needs oxygen therapy?

Oxygen (O2) is essential for life. The air you breathe contains about 21% oxygen by volume. It is inhaled into the lungs and diffused through membranes into the blood.

Sometimes certain conditions can cause a shortage of oxygen in your body and you may need ‘extra’ oxygen to keep healthy and active.

Chronic bronchitis Airflow limitation and inflamed lungs can produce too much mucus, leading to coughing and shortness of breath.
Emphysema Enlarged air sacs in the lungs don’t allow the oxygen and carbon dioxide to move in and out of the lungs to your bloodstream.
Neuro-muscular conditions This can interfere with signals to your diaphragm and its correct function.
Heart problems This might interfere with blood being pumped to and from your lungs correctly.

What is COPD?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the most common lung disease that can be effectively treated with oxygen therapy.

COPD is an umbrella term for two of the major breathing diseases that cause airways to become obstructed – chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

You are not alone if you have COPD.

One in seven Australians over 40 years of age has airflow limitation of their lungs.1

Symptoms and causes

The main symptom of COPD is breathlessness, which often gets worse over time – in the beginning it may occur during activity but later it may happen when you are resting.

Tobacco smoke is the major cause of COPD (2-3-4), although indoor and outdoor air pollution and exposure to pollutants in the workplace are also risk factors.

Why is oxygen therapy helpful?

Oxygen is fundamental to your health. If you have COPD, even when you are not breathless some of your body’s key organs – including your heart, brain, kidneys and muscles – may not be receiving enough oxygen and can be damaged.

If your conditions get worse, it can make it increasingly difficult to enjoy simple daily activities. Oxygen therapy can be prescribed by doctors to help you cope with everyday living.

Oxygen is a medicine. Oxygen therapy increases the oxygen in your blood and provides a range of benefits that include: 5-6

  • Prolonged life
  • Feeling less tired and less short of breath
  • Increased ability to move about and to keep a social life
  • Increased sleep and quality of life
  • Improved heart function


  1. ToelleToelle B, Xuan W, Bird T, Abramson M, Burton D, Hunter M, Johns D, Maguire G, Wood-Baker R, Marks G: COPD in the Australian burden of lung disease (BOLD) study.  Respirology 2011;16 (Suppl 1):12
  2. Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease. Global Strategy for the diagnosis management and prevention of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Updated 2014; available at
  3. ERS. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in: European lung white book. available at…
  4. WHO, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Fact sheet N°315, January 2015. Available at; consulted on 05/11/2014 B, Xuan 
  5. Nocturnal Oxygen Therapy Trial Group. Continuous or nocturnal oxygen therapy in hypoxemic chronic obstructive lung disease: a clinical trial. Ann Intern Med 1980; 93: 391-398
  6. Report of the Medical Research Council Working Party. Long-term domiciliary oxygen therapy in chronic hypoxic cor pulmonale complicating chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Lancet 1981; 1: 681-686