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Can starting oxygen therapy make you feel worse?

Hello, my mom has been living with COPD for at least 10 years, but only this week she had to go on oxygen. I’m having a hard time keeping my anxiety down, because I noticed that she had a “bad COPD day” today. Before starting the oxygen therapy she didn’t have this problem. I feel that the oxygen is helping so much that when she takes it off her system is actually weaker and not able to handle the lower O2
Level. Was it better to be “even-keeled” with low oxygen than now with this rollercoaster of good vs bad “COPD days?”

  1. Hello j0brock1
    My heart goes out to you with the anxiety that you are experiencing. COPD has been referred to as a family disease. I don’t remember where I heard that, but it stuck with me. You are participating in your mom’s COPD with the care and nurturing that you are providing. This makes it easier for you to see the changes.
    It’s important that you remember to take care of you too. That you get the appropriate amount of rest and sleep. Also, that you have a support system. You may be wondering why I am mentioning this. I took care of family members with their health issues, and having someone to talk to when I was experiencing my emotions was so needed. Also to talk with people who were going through similar things, helped so much.
    The transition to oxygen can be alarming because it’s an obvious change. To qualify for oxygen, the person must be at or below 88% for 5 minutes. Your mom’s health issues might not have been as obvious before oxygen. Was she more active before oxygen, after, or no change?
    Because the oxygen is making such a difference, changes or health issues might be much more obvious. Oxygen helps feed all of the organs, so it’s important to follow the doctors recommendations.
    I would call and set up an appointment with your mom’s doctor so that you and your mom can discuss your thoughts and concerns about the change in her COPD health. If you would be more comfortable sharing your concerns by yourself you can do so. Because of HIPAA, the doctor might not be able to share personal attention with you alone, unless you have power of attorney. Then, keep a list of concerns to discuss at the next appointment. I have also been known to share concerns with the nurse and she can talk with the doctor at his convenience. Every doctors office is different, so do find out the best way to share information.
    Please let us know how things are going and know that we are here for you.
    Janet (site moderator)

    1. G'morning J0Brock1 and thanks for this post. You may be aware we cannot provide medical advice or diagnostics over the internet (for your own safety), but your concern certainly warrants a reply.
      In the most general of terms, if mom has been prescribed oxygen throughout the day, she may have the difficulties you've mentioned when she takes the oxygen off. As well, for some patients with COPD (with or without oxygen), they may have their 'bad' days and their 'good' days. Since COPD affects everyone differently, it's difficult to say exactly what is causing the change in mom's days now. It may also be the progression of the COPD condition. You may want to consider speaking about this further with mom's prescribing physician. Please do keep in touch and let us know how mom (and you!) are doing. You are always welcome here! Warmly, Leon (site moderator)

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