Can Oxygen Make you Feel Sick?

oxygen cylinder with boy

Does using too much oxygen have any side effects? Yes, but these side effects are usually mild and generally associated with the overuse of medical oxygen. Boost oxygen is not medical-grade oxygen. Boost oxygen is 95% pure aviator’s supplemental oxygen and is completely safe when used by healthy people looking to appreciate the benefits of supplemental oxygen. 

  • Medical-grade oxygen is defined as 99.2% (or higher) pure oxygen. A doctor can prescribe Medical Oxygen cylinder price as Oxygen Therapy to treat an illness or disease.
  • Overusing prescribed medical-grade oxygen can result in side effects, which are often very mild.
  • More moderate side effects of medical-grade oxygen overuse are known as “Oxygen Toxicity,” but these usually only happen in certain situations.

Toxic? Really?

Unbeknown to most people, too much oxygen can be toxic. After several days of breathing nothing but pure oxygen, you’d experience nausea, dizziness, muscle cramps, and convulsions. You might even die.

Ironically, too much oxygen inhibits ventilation and ends up slowing the delivery of oxygen to your body’s tissues. Another problem is that distinct tissues, like the lining of the lungs and the walls of the arteries, are exposed to oxygen. The cornea is also powerless to oxygen; you may have heard of people who have gone blind because, as newborns, the oxygen levels in their incubators were too high.

What happens during oxygen toxicity? 

When you breathe, oxygen from the air enters your lungs and goes into your blood. The oxygen then goes to all parts of the body through the blood. It keeps organs and tissues working usually. But too high a level of oxygen can harm lung tissues. For example, the lung’s tiny air sacs and alveoli may fill with fluid. Or they may no longer inflate the collapsed lung. The lungs then can’t take in the air usually. This can make it harder for the lungs to send oxygen into the blood. Oxygen toxicity can also cause central nervous system symptoms.

Oxygen Toxicity Symptoms

While using supplemental oxygen to treat a respiratory illness, you can always look for these symptoms of oxygen toxicity:

  • Mild throat irritation
  • Coughing
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing even while using supplemental oxygen
  • Minor muscle spasms in the face and hands
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea and feelings of uneasiness
  • In severe cases, confusion and seizures

Hypoxic Drive / Suppression of Breathing:

The hypoxic drive theory is still being debated within the medical community due to a lack of evidence to support it. The hypoxic drive theory states that some patients with COPD develop chronically elevated carbon dioxide CO2 levels in their bloodstream, leading to a buildup of CO2 in the body, which can result in health complications.

As COPD advances, the body’s perception of a “normal” level of CO2 gradually increases as it is constantly exposed to high levels of CO2. In some people with severe COPD, the level of CO2 becomes so high that the body can no longer use it as a stimulus to breathe. At that time, oxygen levels in the blood take over as the warning system that it’s time to breathe. This is called hypoxic drive.

Diagnosing oxygen toxicity

If you are in the hospital on a ventilator, your blood oxygen level may be measured by a device placed on a finger or toe. Or healthcare staff may take a sample of your blood. Otherwise, your healthcare provider will ask about your health history and give you a physical exam. For example, tell them if you have had recent oxygen therapy or have been scuba diving. 

Treating oxygen toxicity

Your lungs may take weeks or more to recover fully on their own. If you have a collapsed lung, you may need a tube inserted into your chest or a ventilator for a while. Your healthcare provider will tell you more about any other kinds of treatment. They can also answer any questions you may have. 

Preventing oxygen toxicity

What can prevent oxygen toxicity by lowering oxygen in supplemental breathing sources? Your healthcare team will adjust the machine’s settings if you are on a ventilator. Who may tell you to change the settings if you use oxygen therapy or scuba equipment? If you use portable oxygen, your healthcare provider will test you during everyday activities or exercise. This is to make sure that the oxygen is in the correct setting. Talk with your provider about how to use oxygen safely.

Can Too Much Oxygen Kill You?

A recent study found that oxygen therapy increases the risk of death when given liberally to patients with acute illnesses, such as heart attack, stroke, and trauma. One doctor is taking extra precautions in hospitals and prescribing oxygen therapy at home to make supplemental oxygen a safe and healthy treatment. Continuous monitoring of blood oxygen levels helps ensure oxygen therapy that helps rather than harms.

For most patients, the symptoms of oxygen toxicity leave you feeling sick enough not to continue your oxygen therapy. However, recovering from the effects of too much oxygen will be your only concern if you do not have a severe illness.

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