Oxygen is among the most indispensible things that are required for survival. Fortunately, this element is found most abundantly on the crust of the earth, as compounds of oxygen comprise a key component of all living beings, the oceans, and even the rocks. In effect, more than 62 per cent of the earth’s crust (in terms of mass) is composed of oxygen. In addition, this essential element also comprises 65 per cent of all the constituents of the human body, counting blood, tissues, organs and skin.
Oxygen is a colorless, odourless gas which dissolves in water very easily. Every oxygen molecule is made up of two atoms of oxygen and is denoted by the chemical formula O2. It may be noted here that a molecule is the smallest amount of any chemical matter that is able to exist on its own devoid of altering or splitting up.
It may be noted that all our body functions involve oxygen and a continuous supply of oxygen is essential for our very survival. On average, an individual requires around 200 ml (approximately one cup) of oxygen every minute when they are relaxing and almost eight litres (about 2 gallon) of oxygen when they are undertaking any laborious activity. Our brain, which comprises a maximum of 2 per cent of our entire body mass, needs more than 20 per cent of our body’s oxygen requirements. Although we can survive without taking food for many months at a stretch and even live without drinking water for a few days, it is impossible to survive without oxygen for over a few minutes.
At the same time, it needs to be mentioned that oxygen comprises about 21 per cent of the air we generally inhale. However, people who smoke or live in conditions that are intensely polluted may be inhaling less oxygen. When we inhale oxygen along with the air, it reacts with sugar (from the ingested food as well as those derived by breaking down starch and fats within the body) to turn out carbon dioxide, water as well as energy. The energy obtained by means of this process, which is actually a type of combustion, is stored in a compound form known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). In fact, ATP is basically the fuel that we make use of to live, think as well as move about.
Our heart, lungs and the circulatory system distribute adequate quantities of oxygen to all parts of the body. The oxygen supplied from these sources generates the energy or fuel we require to live as well as to thrive. Simultaneously, the lungs carry the waste product, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), from the blood and release it to the air again. According to rough estimates, we inhale 2500 gallons of air every day. On the contrary, trees consume carbon dioxide and by means of the process called photosynthesis, alter carbon dioxide into oxygen and release it back to the air for us to use it again.
While we are in a closed and congested room packed with people, we often feel exhausted and lethargic. Despite the room being full of air, the air is actually scarce in oxygen and high in carbon dioxide content. Several studies have associated the high carbon dioxide level present in a jet aircraft to an assortment of health conditions, including headaches, fatigue as well as discomfort to the eyes, nose and throat. However, often these symptoms fade away within a few hours, when the passengers alight the aircraft and their consumption of oxygen resumes to regular.
How do humans become oxygen deficient?
- Polluted air
- The most significant aspect in oxygen deficit is perhaps air pollution. Unfortunately, people who smoke or those who are secondary smokers actually inhale even less amount of oxygen from the atmosphere. In effect, emissions from factories, automobile exhaust as well as burning garbage are the three most vital reasons of lesser content of oxygen in the air that we inhale.
- Devitalized foods
- Fresh vegetables as well as fruits enclose profuse oxygen, which is disbanded in water. When we consume sufficient amounts of fresh and raw fruits and vegetables, it augments our oxygen intake together with helpful vitamins and minerals contained by these foods.
On the other hand, foods that are cooked, greatly processed and preserved by means of canning have a tendency to contain very low amounts of oxygen. Foods that are rich in fat content, such as eggs, meat and dairy items also have very low oxygen content. Since these foods are more prevalent in the United States, the regular American diet also contains very low amount of oxygen. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise when we say that the variety of diet has been related to a wide assortment of degenerative ailments, for instance, diabetes, cancer and atherosclerosis.
- Poor breathing
- Vigorous breathing engages profound, regular inhaling that make our lungs full of air and subsequently exhale or release that same air completely back into the atmosphere. Owing to contamination, tension or just habit, majority of people actually do not breathe completely. For instance, many amongst us were trained to breathe by depending on just the upper chest muscles, which have a tendency to aerate only the upper portion of the lungs. By making use of the diaphragm and also the upper part of the chest in breathing, we can take more complete breaths and make additional use of the oxygen available in the lungs.
Oxygen therapy actually facilitates in augmenting the feeling regarding good health and happiness in an individual who is short of oxygen owing to any ailment or injury. It may be noted that oxygen therapy may be either a continuous process or an interim treatment conditional on the requirements of the patient. Oxygen therapy is known to be helpful in lessening the burden of the heart in patients suffering from chronic obstructive lung disease, in addition to patients who have endured any ailment like pneumonia, wherein the lungs become feeble.
- Interstitial lung disease treatment
- Oxygen is also utilized in treating interstitial lung disease, which denotes a variety of ailments that lead to the scarring or scraping of the lungs. This can happen owing to ingestion of any toxic substance, trauma, taking drugs or any other unidentified reasons. Whereas the oxygen therapy is unable to reverse the advancement of the condition, it helps the patient in breathing. In addition, it can also facilitate sleep for the sufferer and bring down the blood pressure on the right part of the heart, shielding you from pulmonary hypertension – a condition wherein the ventricle heart muscles become feeble and at times also results in fatal deterioration of this muscle.
- COPD treatment
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is basically an assortment of lung ailments, for instance, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Owing to the injured air passages, breathing does not result in an appropriate exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide while inhaling and exhaling respectively. When this occurs, the heart has to labor more to pump the required oxygen to the different organs. Oxygen therapy provides the patient with respite from the exertion of breathing. According to the report of researchers, the positive results of oxygen therapy in treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) help to enhance the functioning of the heart; one capability to undertake work-outs; alleviates depression; augments mental clarity (clearness of thoughts) and in general, offers superior quality and, occasionally, a longer span of life.
- Accidental poisoning treatment
- Oxygen therapy is basically an element of the healing for poisoning due to carbon monoxide and alcohol. Generally, alcohol poisoning occurs while binge drinking, but it may also take place out of the blue when one consumes alcohol along with household products. On the other hand, poisoning due to carbon monoxide (CO) is owing to improper ventilation, gadgets or defective auto exhaust systems – all these are said to be the most widespread reasons of death due to carbon monoxide poisoning in the U.S. In the case of carbon monoxide poisoning, oxygen therapy is used to substitute the carbon monoxide in the bloodstream. In the case of alcohol poisoning, oxygen therapy is used in conjugation with intravenous hydration, protection of the airways as well as watchful monitoring.
- Gangrene treatment
- It may be noted that hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a feature of treating gangrene, wherein interruption in blood circulation has resulted in the casualty of living tissue, particularly in extremities such as the toes and fingers in the instance of frostbite. In this case, a chamber filled with 2.5 fold of the atmospheric pressure of unpolluted oxygen is employed to assist the blood to transport additional oxygen to the damaged tissues as well as to slow down the growth or multiplication of bacteria.
- Pneumonitis treatment
- The term pneumonitis denotes an inflamed condition of the lung tissue, counting pneumonia. In addition, pneumonitis may also mean an ailment caused by exposure to chemotherapy, asbestos, radiation therapy done on the chest, extreme exposure to poultry as well as specific variety of mold. Apart from the use of antibiotics to combat infection plus corticosteroids to lessen the inflammation, oxygen therapy is also recommended in this case as required, while the patient is exercising or sleeping, conditional on the needs of the patient.
- Oxygen therapy at home
- A wonderful advantage of oxygen therapy is that it may be done at home, in addition to the hospital. In addition, home oxygen therapy may also be recommended for treating several ailments wherein the patient’s blood does not receive sufficient amount of oxygen – a condition known as hypoxemia. Although the content of oxygen in the atmosphere is just 21 per cent, oxygen therapy provides unadulterated oxygen. This has the ability to lessen the shortness of breath as well as exertion on the heart. In addition, oxygen therapy also augments the value of life by means of creating distinct activities of routine living possible with the help of portable oxygen tanks.