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Disease Overview

Oxygen is mainly used to help people who suffer from COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), which affects the lungs, however there are many other conditions for which oxygen will be helpful.

COPD is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases, encompassing emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic asthma. The common characteristics of COPD are progressive limitations of the airflow into and out of the lungs and shortness of breath.

Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are closely related and persons with COPD may have both, which impair lung function, preventing the lungs from doing their job of bringing oxygen to the body and getting rid of carbon dioxide. Some people with COPD may also have an "asthma-like" or reactive component. Emphysema involves destruction of the walls of the small air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. Chronic bronchitis is characterized by a chronic cough and chronic mucus production.

Smoking is the main cause of COPD, but other environmental and industrial pollutants can also result in COPD in someone who has never smoked. Passive exposure to cigarette smoke also can contribute to respiratory symptoms and COPD. Stopping smoking can slow down the progression of your disease so it is important to give up smoking.

The other causes of COPD include occupational dusts and chemicals (vapours, irritants, fumes), and indoor air pollutions from some fuels used for cooking and heating in poorly vented dwellings. Outdoor air pollution adds to the burden of inhaled particles, although to what degree is unknown. When smoke and/or other noxious irritants travel deep into the lungs, the small alveoli are destroyed, leaving larger air sacs that function less effectively, marking the early stages of COPD.

Respiratory infections in early childhood are also associated with reduced lung function and increased respiratory problems in adulthood, which can lead to COPD. There is also a rare, inherited form of emphysema known as alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, which causes COPD.

For more information about your condition, please contact your health care professional.

Home oxygen therapy
Long Term Domiciliary Oxygen Therapy (LTDOT) is the established standard treatment for patients suffering from severe stages of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and/or chronic stable hypoxemia (low oxygen levels in the blood). It has been clinically proven that regular oxygen treatment can improve both quality and length of life for COPD patients. Clinical guidelines recommend that supplementary oxygen for COPD patients should be administered for more than 15 hours a day. With help from Afrox Medispeed, a stable patient can also be treated at home with oxygen therapy. We can offer the patient the optimal medicinal oxygen therapy solution.

The following oxygen systems are available from Afrox Medispeed in South Africa:

Oxygen Concentrators
An electrically-operated device that concentrates the oxygen content of normal room air to approximately 95% at flow rates up to 5l/min. Concentrators are convenient, cost-effective, do not require refills and are aesthetically attractive. Of all the delivery systems used by oxygen-dependent patients, oxygen concentrators are the most common and usually the most economical method to provide oxygen therapy at home. An oxygen concentrator is an electrical device that uses sieve-bed technology to extract oxygen from the surrounding air. This air is then delivered to the patient using a plastic tube connected to a nasal cannula or facemask. The advantages of a concentrator over other forms of oxygen supply are:
  • Concentrators provide a continuous supply of oxygen, while requiring very low maintenance
  • The concentrator stays in the room in which it is placed and the person using the device can use a longer length of oxygen tubing (15m of tubing is provided free of charge) to move around the house without having to move the concentrator
  • A concentrator can be combined with a Medical Oxygen cylinder as a back-up in case of power outages
  • Concentrators are highly cost-efficient
Portable Oxygen-Conserver System
Portable systems permit valuable freedom of movement, enabling patients to be away from their home oxygen source for reasonably long periods of time. The Oxymatic? Oxygen Conserver extends the life of the oxygen cylinder by as much as five times, which, in turn, ensures that the equipment is light and compact. Small lightweight cylinders fit neatly into a backpack to allow patients to get out into the community, to shop, visit friends or family, or get to their doctor for a check up. The availability of mobile oxygen has a direct impact on patients? quality of life.

Medical Oxygen Cylinders
Afrox Medical Oxygen cylinders are registered as medicines with the South African Medicines Control Council under the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act (101 of 1965). This means that the manufacturing process has to comply with Good Manufacturing Practice. This ensures that Afrox Medical Oxygen is fit for its intended use, is safe, is of appropriate quality, and performs as expected so as not to place patients at risk.
  • Cylinders are widely available, available in many different sizes, flexible in their use, provide high purity oxygen of 99.5% and can deliver flow rates in excess of 5l/min, which make them suitable for nebulisation
  • Medical Oxygen cylinders, used in combination with the Oxymatic? unit, provide a cost-effective solution to patients, as the conserving unit enables cylinders to last much longer
  • For Homecare, Medical Oxygen cylinders are primarily used as a backup for oxygen concentrators, in case of power failures for example
  • For short burst oxygen therapies, or where high flow rates are prescribed, cylinders are used as the main source of medicinal oxygen
  • Lightweight cylinders are a solution to increase patient mobility, paired with an oxygen-conserving device and a backpack to increase ease-of-use. The oxygen-conserving device usually enables a cylinder to last approximately 5 times as long as a stand-alone cylinder
(S0) Afrox Medical Oxygen 99.5% min., Reg.No. 29/34/0037

Support services
Medispeed's service has an educational dimension based on a commitment to ensuring that the patients and their caregivers understand exactly how the equipment works and how the therapy regimen can be managed for optimum results. Afrox Medispeed also provides a 24-hour emergency service to allow the patient and caregivers to obtain helpful advice or emergency supplies of oxygen.

Nursing visits are an important component of the service we offer. These take place every three months to confirm the equipment is working according to specifications, as well as to check up on the patients? health. Our nurses also assist patients with pulmonary rehabilitation exercises. These aim to reduce symptoms (e.g. breathlessness), increase the ability to participate in physical and social activities and improve the overall quality of life for patients with chronic respiratory disease.

Further tips for oxygen unit use
While choosing the right equipment is of paramount importance, there are also other general tips for those who have to use oxygen regularly.
  • Inhale through your nose when using oxygen, as breathing through the mouth can leave your mouth very dry
  • Make sure you know how long each cylinder will last you, so that you do not get caught unawares while on an outing
  • Change the nasal cannulas often if the prongs become soiled or hard. Afrox Medispeed provides a free cannula every month
  • Get used to attention. The tubing and oxygen unit may attract attention when you go out. Most people know what they are and won't give it a second thought. Answer questions if people have any