One of the most debilitating mesothelioma symptoms is shortness of breath. In malignant pleural mesothelioma, which affects the pleural lining of the lungs, lung function may be reduced to the extent that supplemental oxygen (also called oxygen therapy) is needed to continue normal functions and maintain activity.
There are now reliable portable devices for supplemental oxygen that allow people using them to easily leave the house to shop and run errands, visit friends and family and enjoy recreational activities and travel.
These devices are innovations that may help relieve some mesothelioma symptoms and improve quality of life for mesothelioma patients.
Why Supplemental Oxygen Relieves Mesothelioma Symptoms
The cells in the body get their energy from the interaction of oxygen with food. The energy produced is used to do everything from breathing, to carrying out bodily functions, to going to the grocery store.
For people who do not get enough oxygen naturally, supplemental oxygen can have several benefits, according to the American Lung Association.
Oxygen therapy can:
- Improve sleep and mood
- Increase mental alertness and stamina
- Allow a person’s body to carry out normal functions
- Prevent heart failure in people with severe lung disease
What Portable Breathing Devices Do
There are now portable breathing devices that can help with mesothelioma symptoms like shortness of breath that may contribute to fatigue and coughing. These typically run on rechargeable batteries that last up to four hours. The oxygen tank is fitted into a shoulder bag or a back pack and regulated by a small digital controller that can be clipped to a belt. There are many other types of portable oxygen machines of various sizes that like a carry-on suitcase roll behind you on wheels. They can be plugged into wall outlets at home. Larger-size ventilators can be kept in the bedroom to help with sleeping.
All of these machines have a small port to which the patient attaches a “nasal cannula” or oxygen tubing. The oxygen flows from the machine to the patient at a prescribed level.
How to Get a Portable Breathing Device
A portable breathing device must be prescribed by your doctor. Some types of devices but not all may be covered by private insurance of Medicare. Consult with your doctor to understand whether a portable breathing device is right for you and if so, what kind. You may want to do the following material before your office visit:
- Take note of all your mesothelioma symptoms related to your breathing.
- Write down all the activities and the lengths of time that lead to shortness of breath.