Oxygen Therapy

Delve into the critical role oxygen therapy plays in the world of intensive care nursing. This comprehensive guide unravels the intricate aspects of this fundamental treatment strategy, from basic concepts to its application in complex scenarios like pneumonia. Discover how oxygen therapy supports patients in the ICU, learn about hyperbaric oxygen therapy and its benefits, and get familiar with the use of oxygen chamber therapy. Stay informed with this educational piece rooted in professional nursing practices.

Oxygen Therapy Oxygen Therapy

Create learning materials about Oxygen Therapy with our free learning app!

  • Instand access to millions of learning materials
  • Flashcards, notes, mock-exams and more
  • Everything you need to ace your exams
Create a free account
Table of contents

    An Overview of Oxygen Therapy in Intensive Care Nursing

    Oxygen therapy is a fundamental nursing intervention in intensive care units (ICU). It is a lifesaving process that delivers oxygen to patients who can't get enough on their own. The primary goals are to prevent hypoxemia and to relieve dyspnea.

    Hypoxemia refers to abnormally low levels of oxygen in the blood, while dyspnea is a condition causing difficulty breathing.

    Oxygen therapy is often required in ICUs due to the severity and variety of conditions treated in these units, ranging from respiratory distress syndrome to various forms of heart diseases and trauma cases. The therapy type and flow rate may need to be adjusted per individual patient, depending on their specific health status and oxygenation need.

    Understanding What Oxygen Therapy is

    Oxygen therapy is a type of treatment wherein extra oxygen is given to patients unable to maintain adequate oxygen-levels in their body on their own. This therapy can be delivered in various methods, each designed to increase the concentration of oxygen inhaled by the patient, hence raising the quantity of oxygen reaching the patient's tissues.

    The methods of oxygen delivery can range from low-flow devices like nasal cannulas, to high-flow devices such as Venturi masks or even invasive mechanical ventilation.

    The Basis of Oxygen Therapy in Intensive Care

    Understanding the basics of oxygen therapy is crucial in the intensive care environment.

    • The first aspect to consider is the patient's oxygenation status, typically measured using a device called a pulse oximeter or through a procedure known as arterial blood gas (ABG) analysis.
    • Next is the mode of delivery, which depends on the individual's condition and level of consciousness.
    • The third key point is the oxygen flow rate. Ensuring the correct oxygen flow is given can make a significant difference in a patient's improvement.
    Parameter Description
    Pulse Oximetry Provides a non-invasive, continuous estimate of arterial oxygen saturation (SpO2).
    Arterial Blood Gas Analysis A blood test that measures the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in your blood, rather than through your skin.
    Mode of Oxygen Delivery Refers to the method used to supply the patient with supplemental oxygen, e.g., nasal cannula, face masks, ventilators, etc.

    How Oxygen Therapy Assists Patients in an ICU

    Oxygen therapy plays a significant role in the management of patients in an ICU. Let's take a brief look at how it provides aid:

    • Prevention and treatment of hypoxemia: Hypoxemia can lead to severe complications, including organ damage. With oxygen therapy, the oxygen levels in the blood can be improved.
    • Reduction of workload on heart and lungs: When there's not enough oxygen in the blood, the heart and lungs have to work harder. Oxygen therapy can ease this strain.
    • Support during acute illnesses: During sudden, severe health problems, like heart attacks or stroke, oxygen therapy can help keep oxygen levels within a safe range.

    For instance, a patient admitted to the ICU following a severe asthma attack may need oxygen therapy to compensate for the difficulty in breathing. The therapy helps prevent the heart and lungs from overworking while also reducing the risk of complications.

    Introduction to Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

    Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is a specialized medical treatment in which the patient breathes 100% pure oxygen within a chamber that is pressurised greater than the atmospheric pressure.

    Used primarily in decompression sickness or carbon monoxide poisoning cases, hyperbaric therapy has been found to be beneficial in critical care settings too. The effectiveness of this treatment owes to the increased pressure, which helps the oxygen dissolve more efficiently in the bloodstream and subsequently, to all body tissues.

    What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

    Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, or HBOT, is a process where patients breathe in pure oxygen under pressures higher than atmospheric levels, typically 2 to 2.5 times the normal level. This treatment is performed in a sealed and pressurised chamber, known as a hyperbaric chamber.

    For example, a patient suffering from decompression sickness - often seen in scuba divers - might be treated with HBOT, as it helps alleviate the condition by reducing the size of air bubbles formed in the patient's blood vessels.

    Decompression sickness, often referred to as 'the bends', occurs when a scuba diver ascends too quickly, causing nitrogen gas dissolved in the blood to form bubbles.

    Principles of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

    Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy works on several principles linked with gas laws and human physiology.

    • According to Henry's Law, the amount of gas dissolved in a liquid is directly proportional to the partial pressure of that gas in contact with the liquid. Thus, increasing the pressure in the hyperbaric chamber leads to a more significant amount of oxygen being absorbed in the bodily fluids and tissues.
    • The increased oxygen concentration improves tissue oxygenation, which promotes healing and enhances the immune response. This assists with the management of various complicated medical conditions.

    Henry's Law: \( P = kH \cdot C \), where \( P \) is the solubility of the gas, \( kH \) is Henry's constant specific to the gas, and \( C \) is the concentration of the gas in the liquid.

    Use of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in Intensive Care Units

    In an ICU setting, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy serves several purposes. In addition to treating decompression sickness and gas embolism, HBOT is effectively used to manage other conditions too.

    • Wound care: HBOT enhances wound healing, particularly in those patients suffering from non-healing ulcers or complications arising out of diabetes or radiation therapy to tissues.
    • Infections: HBOT helps to fight specific bacterial infections, especially anaerobic infections, and enhances the efficacy of certain antibiotics.
    • Critical care: HBOT has shown effectiveness in life-threatening situations like carbon monoxide poisoning and crush injury.

    An example might be a patient admitted to the ICU with diabetic foot ulcers. The healing process can be significantly slowed due to impaired blood flow and reduced oxygen delivery to the foot. When such a patient undergoes HBOT, the enhanced oxygen supply delivered to the tissues can speed up the healing process, potentially saving the patient from amputation.

    Gains of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: A Practical Approach

    As advances in medical science continue to unfold, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has emerged as a potent strategy against various health conditions. Particularly in the realm of intensive care nursing, the gains offered by this therapy promise remarkable impactful results, from accelerating wound healing to combating severe infections.

    Discovering the Benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

    Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has displayed encouraging outcomes across diverse clinical situations. As a high-pressure, high-oxygen strategy, this treatment leverages the combination of increased atmospheric pressure and enhanced oxygen concentration to cater to the body's healing needs.

    • Critical Care: In critical care settings, HBOT provides a lifeline for managing severe conditions such as carbon monoxide poisoning, necrotizing fasciitis, and severe anaemia when transfusion is not possible. Leveraging the high oxygen levels, it bolsters the body's healing response and therapy effectiveness.
    • Non-healing Wounds: Nursing care of chronic, non-healing wounds, especially in patients with diabetes or those recovering from radiation therapy, has seen remarkable transformations with HBOT. By enhancing the oxygen supply, it feeds into the cellular requirements for repair and regeneration, promoting faster recovery.
    • Management of Infections: The oxygen-rich environment created by HBOT is detrimental to certain infection-causing bacteria, particularly the anaerobic ones. Therefore, this therapy also supports the management of severe, stubborn infections that have shown resistance to conventional treatments.

    It's fascinating to note that the benefits of HBOT extend beyond the immediate treatment period. Sustained improvements in oxygenation can continue even after the therapy session, providing a 'carry-over' effect that aids in the patient's recovery over time.

    Effectiveness of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in Nursing Care

    In nursing care, the efficacy of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy rests on its multifaceted utility, as it's instrumental in addressing several critical care needs. Besides providing primary treatment for specific conditions, it offers support to the systemic recovery mechanisms as well.

    Condition How HBOT Helps
    Wound Healing HBOT induces the development of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) and helps clot the wound faster; thus, reducing inflammation and expediting healing. It's particularly useful in diabetic ulcers and those resulting due to poor vasculature.
    Osteoradionecrosis For patients suffering from radiation injuries to bone and surrounding tissues, HBOT emerges as a reliable ally. It reverses the poor oxygenation condition locally, supporting healing and tissue regeneration at the cellular level.
    Carbon Monoxide Poisoning In cases of carbon monoxide poisoning, HBOT works by displacing the poisonous gas attached to hemoglobin, allowing oxygen to bind instead. The result is an immediate increase in oxygen supply to the brain and other organs, preventing long-term damage.

    Osteoradionecrosis refers to bone damage due to radiation therapy, which can lead to problems like chronic pain, fractures, and wound complications.

    Consider the case of a patient who's been treated for head and neck cancer with radiation therapy. Despite successful cancer treatment, the patient develops a non-healing wound in the irradiated region - a complication called radiation necrosis. When conventional wound management strategies don't bring significant improvement, the healthcare team can turn to HBOT. In such scenarios, HBOT delivers much-needed oxygen supplies to the affected area, boosting healing, and offering the patient relief from distressing symptoms.

    Oxygen Chamber Therapy in Detail

    As a significant constituent of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, oxygen chambers have revolutionised the way patients receive oxygen-assisting treatments. Offering controlled atmospheric pressure and high oxygen concentration, these chambers have become an integral part of intensive care nursing and overall patient management.

    Unfolding the Concept of Oxygen Chamber Therapy

    Oxygen chamber therapy is a method utilised in administering increased levels of oxygen to patients in a high-pressure environment. At its core, it leverages the principles of medical gas laws to enhance recovery impacts in various health conditions.

    At its core, oxygen chamber therapy is a form of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). The patient is placed within a specially designed airtight chamber, which is then pressurised to levels higher than atmospheric pressure. The increased pressure allows for a greater presence of oxygen in the blood, making more oxygen available to be transported to body tissues.

    Prime Conditions Treated:

    • Chronic wound management, specifically in cases of delayed healing, poor vascularity, or wounds secondary to other complex conditions like diabetes or radiation exposure.
    • The treatment of decompression sickness, gas embolism, and acute traumatic ischemia.
    • Management of severe infections, particularly anaerobic infections, osteomyelitis, and infections secondary to surgical wounds, burns, or skin grafts.
    • Life-threatening situations like carbon monoxide poisoning, air or gas embolism, and necrotizing soft tissue infections.

    Oxygen chamber therapy's efficacy relies on medical gas law principles. For instance, the core principle employed is Henry's law, which states that the quantity of a gas dissolved in a liquid is directly proportional to its partial pressure. Consequently, increasing the atmospheric pressure with the help of the chamber facilitates larger quantities of oxygen to dissolve in a patient's blood, thereby enhancing oxygen delivery to the body's cells and tissues.

    Oxygen Chamber Therapy in Intensive Care Nursing

    Oxygen chamber therapy holds robust relevance in intensive care nursing, acting as a powerful tool to manage critical cases and improve patient outcomes. Particularly for patients with respiratory distress or grappling with stubborn wound healing, the advanced therapeutic possibilities offered by this high-pressure treatment have been indispensable.

    Key Benefits:

    • Enhances wound healing capabilities by improving the local oxygen supply, supporting angiogenesis and collagen synthesis, and fighting bacterial infections.
    • Increases oxygen carrying capacity of blood, thereby reducing workload on the heart and lungs and improving the overall systemic oxygenation levels.
    • Helps combat certain anaerobic infections by creating an environment detrimental to these bacteria.

    Consider a critical care nursing scenario involving a patient with extensive burns. The skin, critical in protecting the body from infection, is compromised. Susceptibility to infection increases further due to the presence of dead tissue. Delivery of oxygen to the wound site is often poor because of reduced blood flow. Introducing oxygen chamber therapy in such a scenario enhances oxygen delivery to the wound, promoting faster healing and reducing the risk of infection.

    Collagen is a protein that forms a crucial part of the skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments. Collagen synthesis, driven by sufficient oxygen supply, plays a significant role in wound healing.

    Everyday Procedure in Intensive Care:

    1. Patient is placed within the oxygen chamber.
    2. The chamber is then sealed and filled with 100% oxygen.
    3. The pressure within the chamber is gradually increased to a level higher than normal atmospheric pressure, typically 2 to 2.5 times the normal level.
    4. The patient breathes pure oxygen within this high-pressure environment for a prescribed amount of time, usually 60 to 90 minutes.
    5. The pressure is slowly brought back to normal levels after the therapy duration.
    6. Patients usually require multiple (daily or weekly) sessions, with the number of sessions dependent on the individual's specific medical condition.

    Application of Oxygen Therapy in Pneumonia Cases

    Pneumonia is a respiratory condition typically characterised by inflammation of the lungs primarily due to infection. Oxygen therapy, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), plays a crucial role in managing pneumonia, particularly for patients struggling with severe symptoms or complications.

    Understanding Pneumonia Oxygen Therapy

    In pneumonia, the lung's air sacs (also known as alveoli) fill with fluid or pus, impairing oxygen exchange and leading to difficulties breathing. Providing supplemental oxygen, either traditionally or via a hyperbaric chamber, helps improve the oxygen saturation in the blood, supporting the body's healing mechanisms.

    Pneumonia Oxygen Therapy refers to the administration of oxygen in higher concentrations than found in the ambient air to individuals struggling with pneumonia. This procedure helps improve the oxygen levels in the blood, facilitating better cellular function and recovery.

    Primary Goals of Therapy:

    • To improve hypoxemia: Hypoxemia is a condition in which there is a low level of oxygen in the blood. By making more oxygen available, the therapy helps to alleviate this condition.
    • To reduce the work of breathing: In severe pneumonia, the effort to breathe can be significant. Supplemental oxygen can help reduce this effort, providing relief to the patient.
    • To alleviate symptoms like shortness of breath and promote overall comfort.

    Oxygen therapy in pneumonia not only ameliorates immediate symptoms but also works on a cellular level. Cells require an adequate oxygen supply for the efficient production of ATP, i.e., cellular fuel. Low blood oxygen in pneumonia patients can impair this, leading to fatigue and poor recovery. Hence, supplemental oxygen - by improving blood and subsequently cellular oxygen levels - can positively impact healing and recovery.

    Hypoxemia is a condition wherein there is a lower than normal level of oxygen in the blood; it can be measured using a pulse oximeter, which provides a reading of SpO2, i.e. oxygen saturation. A level below 90% is generally considered indicative of hypoxemia.

    Usage and Effects of Pneumonia Oxygen Therapy in ICU

    In intensive care units, pneumonia patients, particularly those with severe symptoms or complications, often require oxygen therapy. The intensity and method of the therapy vary according to patients' specific needs and their ability to maintain adequate blood oxygen levels.

    For instance, a patient suffering from severe pneumonia might be struggling to maintain oxygen saturation above 90% despite receiving maximum supplemental oxygen via a standard nasal cannula, i.e. a device providing supplemental oxygen to individuals via tubes inserted into the nostrils. The healthcare team might then opt for HBOT, allowing the patient to breathe pure oxygen in a high-pressure environment, thereby successfully getting blood oxygen levels back to normal range.

    Benefits Specifics
    Improves Oxygen Supply Higher oxygen concentration aids in better oxygen saturation in the blood.
    Supports Cellular Healing Enhanced oxygen levels facilitate efficient cellular metabolism, promoting recovery.
    Relieves Breathing Effort The additional oxygen supply reduces the effort required to breathe, making the patient more comfortable and less fatigued.
    Ameliorates Symptoms Oxygen therapy can help reduce the feeling of breathlessness and other respiratory distress symptoms.

    Delivering Pneumonia Oxygen Therapy:

    1. A health professional assesses the patient's need for supplemental oxygen based on their symptoms, oxygen saturation levels, and overall health status.
    2. Supplemental oxygen is then administered either via nasal prongs/nasal cannula, face masks, or a hyperbaric chamber for intense oxygen therapy.
    3. The therapy continues as long as the patient requires. The healthcare team regularly monitors the patient's oxygen saturation, respiratory rate and other vital parameters for optimal therapy delivery.

    A nasal cannula is a device used to deliver supplemental oxygen. The oxygen is delivered under low pressure through two prongs that are inserted into the nostrils. It is used when a low flow of oxygen is needed.

    Oxygen Therapy - Key takeaways

    • Oxygen Therapy: a treatment method that provides extra oxygen to the body to aid in health problems like asthma, heart attacks, or stroke.
    • Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: a specialized medical treatment where patients inhale 100% pure oxygen inside a pressurised chamber, commonly used in cases of decompression sickness or carbon monoxide poisoning.
    • Decompression sickness: a condition that occurs when a scuba diver ascends too quickly, causing nitrogen gas in the blood to form bubbles.
    • Oxygen Chamber Therapy: a method of applying Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT), where patients are treated in a pressurized chamber with high oxygen concentrations.
    • Pneumonia Oxygen Therapy: delivery of higher concentrations of oxygen to patients with pneumonia, improving oxygen levels in the blood and aiding healing processes.
    Oxygen Therapy Oxygen Therapy
    Learn with 45 Oxygen Therapy flashcards in the free StudySmarter app

    We have 14,000 flashcards about Dynamic Landscapes.

    Sign up with Email

    Already have an account? Log in

    Frequently Asked Questions about Oxygen Therapy
    What are the potential risks involved in oxygen therapy?
    Oxygen therapy carries potential risks such as lung damage from high concentration or long-term use, oxygen toxicity, and airway burns. It can also lead to complications like dry or bloody nose, skin damage, or suppression of breathing in persons with certain conditions.
    What is the right way to administer oxygen therapy at home?
    The right way to administer oxygen therapy at home is via a face mask or nasal cannula connected to an oxygen source. Ensure the flow rate is as prescribed by the healthcare professional, always check the equipment for any damage before use, and never smoke near the oxygen source.
    How often should you reassess a patient's need for oxygen therapy?
    The patient's need for oxygen therapy should be reassessed every 1-4 hours for acute care and at least every 8 hours in stable patients. Reassessment should be more frequent if the patient's condition changes.
    What types of conditions may require the use of oxygen therapy?
    Oxygen therapy may be required for conditions that affect the lungs and breathing such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, asthma, cystic fibrosis, lung cancer and heart failure. It's also used in emergency situations like shock, sepsis and major trauma.
    What kind of equipment is typically used for administering oxygen therapy?
    Oxygen therapy equipment typically includes an oxygen source like a cylinder or concentrator, oxygen masks or nasal cannulas for delivery, and an oxygen regulator or flowmeter to control the oxygen levels.

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    What are the primary goals of using oxygen therapy in intensive care units (ICU)?

    What parameters are crucial to understand in oxygen therapy within the intensive care environment?

    How does oxygen therapy assist patients in an intensive care unit (ICU)?


    Discover learning materials with the free StudySmarter app

    Sign up for free
    About StudySmarter

    StudySmarter is a globally recognized educational technology company, offering a holistic learning platform designed for students of all ages and educational levels. Our platform provides learning support for a wide range of subjects, including STEM, Social Sciences, and Languages and also helps students to successfully master various tests and exams worldwide, such as GCSE, A Level, SAT, ACT, Abitur, and more. We offer an extensive library of learning materials, including interactive flashcards, comprehensive textbook solutions, and detailed explanations. The cutting-edge technology and tools we provide help students create their own learning materials. StudySmarter’s content is not only expert-verified but also regularly updated to ensure accuracy and relevance.

    Learn more
    StudySmarter Editorial Team

    Team Oxygen Therapy Teachers

    • 16 minutes reading time
    • Checked by StudySmarter Editorial Team
    Save Explanation

    Study anywhere. Anytime.Across all devices.

    Sign-up for free

    Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.

    Join over 22 million students in learning with our StudySmarter App

    The first learning app that truly has everything you need to ace your exams in one place

    • Flashcards & Quizzes
    • AI Study Assistant
    • Study Planner
    • Mock-Exams
    • Smart Note-Taking
    Join over 22 million students in learning with our StudySmarter App