Log in
British Lung Foundation
39,999 members46,908 posts

O2 and Breathlessness

Hi All

Whilst I am not on 02 (at least not yet as my sats are quite good), I often read that 02 doesn't improve breathlessness but is used in order to improve your sats and protect your vital organs against depleted 02. Is my understanding correct?

7 Replies

Spot on Martin. If your lungs only hold 25% of the air they should, it follows that you will have less oxygen in your body. It is not possible to increase the amount of air you breath (without a transplant, or valves) and your body may be struggling. Using oxygen therapy tops up the amount of oxygen you have to the level that your body needs to maintain healthy organs. Simples!

1 like

Spot on auntymary,the faster you try to breath,the less oxygen you keep in your system,as your body uses it up faster than you can get it in.Hence slow deep as you can get breathing works better than trying to force it in....

1 like

Oxygen does improve breathlessness slightly as the 6 minute walk test proves.

If you carry out a six minute walk test on oxygen and off oxygen most people will cover a greater distance on oxygen rather than off oxygen before becoming breathless. Thier blood oxygen levels will remain slightly higher which in turn makes you slightly less breathless.This is the basic and simple test that works out whether oxygen will benifit you or not.

You also recover quicker after breathlessness on oxygen and too a higher blood oxygen level at rest so you are breathless for a shorter period of time.

My conclusion to this is you must be less breathless on oxygen than off oxygen.

Its no miracle cure to being out of breathe but as others have said the higher your blood oxygen levels remain the less damage there is to your vital organs.

When on oxygen most people will be more active and able to do more than they could off it.

I'm on oxygen for 15 hours a day and my main reason for useing it is so my day is more

comfortable, I am more active because I am less breathless!!.

I can do 15mins on the exercise bike and cover 2.6 miles, 'on oxygen' before breathlessness stops me.

I can do 5 mins on the exercise bike and 1 mile, 'off oxygen' before breathlessness stops me.

These figures kind of speak for themselves dont they.

Hope this goes some way to answer your question Martin1945

Tony. :) Good health and breathe easy.

1 like

Thank you Martin that does go a long way in explaining it. I am also on 15 hours initially I was on 2 but now it has been turned down to I except for my portable I have been told to keep that on 2 for going out, we do live on a very steep hill with a long flight of steps to access in the other direction to get to the town, neither of us drive. I have found that I was able to do more things for a greater length of time before it was reduced and recovery takes longer if I do get breathless as in walking upstairs, my bathroom is upstairs so unfortunately I am up and down a number of times in the days but find it really difficult in the evenings or at night, some days are worse than others but always the same at night so I go to bed early especially if my hubby is working an afternoon shift it can be quite scary with a bad asthma attack and being alone. I did feel far more comfortable and more confident on 2 than 1. On bad days I take a puff of ventolin and rest on each stair going up or down.


Have you told your GP how going down to 1 has made you feel? I think if I was you and alone in the house I would keep it on 2 to make me feel safer. I am on oxygen 24hours a day, seven days a week and on fifteen litres per min. I was on lower but like you with a loo upstairs found this suited me best. Dr and consultant said whatever was best for me was Ok with them. Call him on Mon


Oxygen may help breathlessness in some people. It does not help everyone. If oxygen helps you, the hospital will talk to your family doctor and see if you can have it available at home. It will not be prescribed if it is not doing you any good. If you find oxygen helpful you can use it at anytime - some people use it when they know they are going to be busy e.g. just before they prepare to walk upstairs, or just before walking up the road. Other people like to use it now and again when they have become breathless.



It was my respiratory consultant who lowered it on my first visit to clinic hoping to wean me off the oxygen with the benefit of re-hab, I have asthma, underactive thyroid osteoporosis and Sjogrens since being discharged from hospital (unfortunately neither myself nor hubby are drivers) I have to attend the clinic via ambulance, my hubby is not allowed to accompany me (Cut backs) so travels ahead with the portable oxygen as it is too heavy for me and meets me there, The nurse did my blood gasses three times taking it from my earlobes and a breathing test by which time there was no time to ask questions or discuss how I had been since being discharged it was the same on my second visit, my consultant and the nurse said all my questions would be answered at re-hab but it's been almost 6 months and no appointment to attend, my GP is new the old one has just retired and is as much in the dark in regard to my treatment as I am.


You may also like...