Why Do You Need a Prescription for Oxygen?

Oxygen floats around freely in the air we breathe, right? So why would you need a prescription to get extra oxygen? If your doctor has prescribed oxygen therapy for you, you will be receiving medical oxygen, which does not contain the other gasses that the air in our atmosphere has in it. The FDA requires that medical oxygen only be distributed with a prescription. A prescription for supplemental oxygen is important because it means a medical professional tells you how much you need and how often you need to use it.

doctor viewing lung xray

Reasons Why Your Doctor May Prescribe Oxygen

Conditions that may require supplemental oxygen include:

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Emphysema
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Pneumonia
  • Sleep Apnea
  • COVID-19
  • A severe asthma attack

If you have not seen your doctor lately, but you have some of the following symptoms, you could be in need of supplemental oxygen:

  • You have difficulty breathing
  • You can’t exercise as long as you used to
  • You feel tired more often
  • You experience moments of confusion or disorientation
  • Your memory is suffering

Discuss your symptoms with your doctor as soon as possible. These could be symptoms of a serious condition.

How Does Supplemental Oxygen Help You Feel Better?

The reason you are feeling fatigued and have difficulty breathing is probably due to hypoxia. Hypoxia happens when your lungs can’t transfer the necessary amount of oxygen into your bloodstream. Not having the proper amount of oxygen moving through your bloodstream puts stress on your entire body.

When you inhale the extra concentrated oxygen, you are making it easier for your lungs to do their jobs. With the right amount of oxygen in your bloodstream, you won’t feel so short of breath, and your energy levels will go up. Your body will be able to do its work better, so you can exercise again. Oxygen flowing through your bloodstream helps your whole body function properly, so you can feel better.

How Often Do You Need to Use Supplemental Oxygen?

Your doctor will tell you how often you need to use supplemental oxygen. Some people need it all the time, while others only need it occasionally or when they are sleeping. Some people may need it while exercising. Think of your supplemental oxygen as a type of medication. It is very important to follow your doctor’s instructions on how much to use and when to use it.

Your doctor will do some tests to find out how much extra oxygen you need. The tests may include:

  • An arterial blood gas (ABS) test. You will have blood drawn, so the doctor can see how much oxygen and carbon dioxide is in your blood. This will signify how well your lungs are working to transfer oxygen into the bloodstream. If your carbon dioxide levels are high, it could signify that your lungs are not removing the carbon dioxide effectively.
  • The doctor may use a pulse oximeter to monitor the levels of your blood oxygen. The pulse oximeter is placed on your fingertip. It uses infrared and red light frequencies to test the levels of oxygen in your blood. You will probably get tested during times of rest and times of exercise.

Once your doctor is satisfied with the measurements, they will prescribe the right dosage of oxygen for you.

Information About Your Oxygen Prescription

Your doctor will discuss your oxygen prescription with you. It should include the following information:

  • Your diagnosis. This is why you need supplemental oxygen.
  • Flow dosing. Some people need a continuous flow, while others need a pulse dose.
  • Recommended oxygen dosage.
  • Frequency of oxygen use.
  • How long you need to use the oxygen. Some people may only need it temporarily, while others will require a longer duration.
  • Recommended oxygen devices.
  • Information for your insurance provider.

What You Need to Do After Getting a Prescription for Supplemental Oxygen

After you get the prescription, your doctor will discuss what options you have concerning an oxygen delivery device. You may need an oxygen tank or an oxygen concentrator.


Learn more about X-PLOR oxygen concentrator.