Oxygen and Medical Gas Therapy

Oxygen Tank

When thinking about respiratory care, medical gas therapy is one of the most common practices. Various types of medical gas therapies have been introduced since the first recorded use of oxygen therapy to treat patients, which was in 1885 to treat a patient with pneumonia. From then on, additional oxygen advancements have been invented, like portable oxygen, oxygen cylinders and concentrators.

While oxygen may be the most common type of medical gas therapy, there are several other gas therapies that include various gases combined with oxygen.


Oxygen Therapy

Oxygen therapy can be used for a number of conditions like emergency situations, chronic conditions, and long-term health conditions. Oxygen can be administered in different ways depending on the patient’s needs and based on the doctor’s recommendation.

An example of oxygen therapy used for chronic conditions would be for someone who has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which can develop from excessive smoking. In this case, the patient may need supplemental oxygen therapy during times where there is difficulty breathing or the condition worsens.

Other examples of chronic illnesses that may require oxygen therapy include sleep apnea, pneumonia, lung disease, cystic fibrosis and more.

People with chronic illnesses will require some sort of oxygen therapy at some point. Although these types of conditions are important to treat, there are other emergency scenarios where oxygen is needed to help keep someone stabilized after a serious accident.


Emergency Oxygen Administration

Oxygen is commonly used for emergency resuscitation in life threatening conditions where the person is not getting enough oxygen. We breathe in about 21% of oxygen within the air we breathe on a daily basis. When patients are breathing in less oxygen, providing them with supplemental oxygen can help save their lives.

Emergency oxygen cylinders will be clearly labeled and does not require a prescription as it should only be handled by first aid providers and professional rescuers. It is typically administered through an oxygen mask, cannula or bag mask.

As a gas that we require to sustain life, oxygen therapy isn’t the only medical gas therapy that can help save lives.


Lung Diffusion testing

When patients have lung issues, sometimes doctors will use medical oxygen for lung diffusion testing to help diagnose any lung conditions or see how well existing treatments are going.

Lung diffusion testing is quick, simple and painless. During the test, patients inhale medical oxygen mixed with a small amount of carbon monoxide and a tracer gas. Helium is typically the most commonly used gas as a tracer gas.

The patient’s nose is then closed to so that the lungs are thoroughly testing. Patients will then inhale the gas mixture and exhale in order to see how well the lungs are able to exchange the gases.


Helium-Oxygen Therapy (Heliox)

Helium-oxygen therapy, better known as heliox, is commonly used to treat upper and lower airway conditions that cause air-flow obstructions. When air-flow obstructions are present, the patient’s lungs will work harder to try and get more air. With the use of heliox, there is less pressure on the lungs to work harder.

Heliox contains 30% oxygen at the highest level, which makes it less dense than air. This decreases airway resistance in patients, which is what reduces the need for the lungs to work as hard.

Recently with the coronavirus infections around the world, patients have been developing severe acute respiratory conditions and heliox has been helpful in assisting patients with their breathing.

Over the last few decades, heliox has proven to be helpful with people who have acute asthma and bronchiolitis. Usually, heliox is recommended as a treatment for patients who have severe breathing issues, like patients in intensive care units.


Carbon Dioxide-Oxygen Therapy

When using carbon dioxide with oxygen for therapy, only about 5% or 10% of the gas mixture is carbon dioxide. Also known as carbogen, this can be used to improve cerebral blood flow, which may be necessary for patients that may have had a stroke or other conditions affecting the brain, like dementia.

CO2 oxygen therapy essentially stimulates the respiratory system to help treat patients with a respiratory disease and can also help with minor nuances like the hiccups. It can also be used to manage a chronic respiratory obstruction after it’s been cleared to assist with breathing.

Usually, it’s administered for about 5 minutes though an oxygen mask or endotracheal tube. If administered for too long, it can cause uncomfortable symptoms like headaches, dizziness and other effects.


Laparoscopic surgery

When it comes to additional carbon dioxide treatments, it is also used for laparoscopy surgeries to treat a variety of abdominal conditions. It is used to enlarge or expand the abdominal cavity during minimal invasive surgeries. This allows surgeons to get a better view of the surgical area.


Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is done in a pressurized environment, which increases the patient’s oxygen levels. It uses pure medical oxygen and is usually administered in a chamber of a pressurized room with an oxygen mask. The increased oxygen levels stimulate the release of stem cells and growth factors, allowing your wounds to heal faster and more efficiently while also reducing swelling and infection.

This method is used to treat several conditions like decompression sickness, radiation injuries, burns, bubbles of air in the blood, traumatic brain injuries and more. Therapy usually lasts around 2 hours and patients may feel slightly tired or hungry after therapy.

Sometimes stubborn wounds take a long time to heal and that’s where hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be beneficial. It’s a painless procedure, but the increased pressure can be uncomfortable to some people as it can cause ear popping and slight chest heaviness. Depending on the condition of the patient, multiple sessions may be required for best results.


While medical gas therapy can help people with varying conditions, it’s important to remember that medical gases are considered a drug and can only be recommended by a licensed professional.

Having respiratory gas available at all times is very important for medical facilities, especially as people are still battling the effects of the coronavirus.

At Wagner Welding Supply Metro Medical Oxygen, we are committed to taking the stress off of medical facilities by keeping them supplied with the gases they need. We supply medical oxygen to hospitals and clinics around the Denver and Longmont areas with convenient next business day delivery.


To learn more about the medical gases we offer, visit our medical page or give us a call at 303-776-1491 so we can answer your questions. If you already know what you need, feel free to fill out our get a quote form and out specialists will follow up.