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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    When is supplemental oxygen therapy recommended for someone with COPD?

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    Prof Peter Bremner

    Respiratory & Sleep Medicine Physician

    I have a busy clinical practice, that deals with all aspects of both inpatient and outpatient respiratory medicine. I have specific interests in pulmonary malignancy, … View Profile

    Supplemental oxygen in COPD is required only when oxygen levels in the blood are sufficiently low enough for the body to derive benefit from additional oxygen.  The accepted level below which supplemental oxygen is prescribed is around an oxygen saturation level of 90% or 60mmHg.

    A common misconception is that shortness of breath is related to a lack of oxygen.  In fact ,there is a very poor relationship between oxygen levels in the blood and breathlessness.  Therefore, most patients with COPD will not benefit from oxygen, even though they may be very short of breath on exertion.  

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