Oxygen therapy has become more relevant because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though COVID-19 affects people in different ways, it typically attacks the respiratory system. As of writing, there are over a million confirmed deaths, and over 40 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, according to WHO. Most fatalities and patients that were in critical conditions are adults and/or have pre-existing conditions such as cancer, asthma, diabetes, and many more.
The Importance of Oxygen Therapy in the COVID-19 Era
Pneumonia is one of the most common health complications of COVID-19, apart from other respiratory ailments. And the common treatment for these complications is oxygen therapy. Oxygen therapy is as simple as it sounds – it transfers oxygen gas to help a patient breathe.
Oxygen therapy is prescribed to patients who experience breathing issues because it allows the lungs to have enough oxygen to deliver to the blood. Complications may arise and your body may not work properly if the blood does not have enough oxygen.
Oxygen therapy may be given for short or long periods. And depending on the type of therapy, it could be administered in a hospital or in the comfort of your home. But not all oxygen therapies are only prescribed to patients with serious respiratory diseases. Some types are also prescribed to patients with sleep apnea and asthma.
Oxygen Therapies Before COVID-19
Although respiratory complications are more talked about nowadays, it does not mean that it was not a real issue before the pandemic. A lot of people suffer from respiratory complications because of their lifestyles or inborn conditions. Apart from sleep apnea, pneumonia, and asthma, other patients who need oxygen therapy suffer from complications such as cystic fibrosis, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and heart failure, among others.
Common Types of Oxygen TherapiesThere are four major types of oxygen therapy. These include:
- oxygen gas,
- liquid oxygen,
- oxygen concentrators, and
- hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
These therapies can be done through a nasal cannula, face mask, or hyperbaric chamber.
Both liquid and gas oxygen can be stored in a portable tank. Precaution is needed for these tanks because they are extremely flammable. Meanwhile, oxygen concentrators are not as portable as the first two types. An oxygen concentrator filters surrounding air and compresses it and delivers the purified oxygen to the patient in a pulse-dose delivery.
Just like oxygen concentrators, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is not portable either. Basically, in this therapy, the patient breathes pure oxygen in a pressurized room or chamber, which often helps treat serious infections and wounds.
CPAP and BiPAP Therapy for Sleep Apnea
As much as there are people who suffer from different respiratory complications, one of the most common conditions is sleep apnea. This is why the two of the most common oxygen therapies or oxygen delivery methods are CPAP and BiPAP therapy.
According to Mayo Clinic, sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder wherein the breathing repeatedly stops and starts, which could be a serious complication. The common signs of sleep apnea are loud snoring, gasping for air during sleep, and tiredness even after complete hours of sleep, among others.There are also different types of sleep apnea:
- obstructive sleep apnea,
- central sleep apnea, and
- complex sleep apnea syndrome.
Obstructive sleep apnea, which is commonly treated by continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, is the most common type of sleep apnea and takes place when the muscles that support your throat temporarily relax. Typical causes of obstructive sleep apnea are excess weight, nasal congestion, smoking, and other medical conditions such as heart failure.
How Does CPAP Therapy Help With Obstructive Sleep Apnea?CPAP machines allow patients with obstructive sleep apnea to have constant and steady air pressure when they sleep, usually delivered through a mask or a nosepiece. A CPAP machine consists of a mask, a tube, and a motor.
- The mask is used to make sure that the oxygen is delivered directly to you;
- the tube connects the mask to the motor, and
- the motor blows air into the tube.
CPAP therapy helps people with sleep apnea in a way that it assists in helping your airway open when they sleep. It also helps reduce symptoms of sleep apnea such as loud snoring and tiredness. To have a better experience with CPAP therapy, you should consider the size of the mask you are going to use to prevent it from slipping when you are asleep. Also, you have to keep your machine clean using a CPAP cleaner to prevent common oxygen therapy-related complications such as sinusitis and dry mouth.
On the other hand, BiPAP (bi-level positive airway pressure) is also used to treat sleep apnea. But it is also used to treat other complications such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive heart failure or coronary artery disease, and plenty of others.
What’s the Difference Between BiPAP and CPAP Therapy?
Though both deliver pressurized air to patients, BiPAP therapy delivers higher pressure of air when the patient breathes in. It uses two different pressures that help patients inhale and exhale properly. This is why BiPAP is often used by patients with more severe cases of sleep apnea, and other respiratory problems like COPD. BiPAP machines are usually more expensive than CPAP machines because of the added feature. Some BiPAP also comes with a humidifier.
In some cases, the use of these oxygen therapy machines may be permanent, but when your condition improves, your doctor may consider using lower pressure in your treatment. Just make sure you do not use these machines without the assistance or instructions from your doctor. And of course, you have to consider the quality of the machines and equipment you will use – even the BiPAP or CPAP machine cleaner you will purchase.
Oxygen therapy can help people with COVID-19 and sleep apnea deal with breathing difficulties. However, COVID-19 patients with pneumonia and other severe respiratory complications may not entirely rely on CPAP or BiPAP machines as these cannot replace ventilators. CPAP and BiPAP machines may also make the virus worse when the machines are not clean. This is why we recommend a high-quality CPAP cleaner, such as what we offer here at CleanFlash®.
Our CPAP cleaner uses both UV light and ozone as cleaning agents, for twice the efficiency of a regular CPAP cleaner. To learn more about our product, please don’t hesitate to contact us or view our CPAP cleaner FAQ page.
All the best!
The Cardiology Advisor