The use of oxygen as a medical treatment is called oxygen therapy, commonly referred to as supplementary oxygen. Carbon monoxide toxicity, cluster headaches, and hypoxemia (low blood oxygen levels) are some acute indications for treatment. It can also be administered as a preventative measure to keep blood oxygen levels stable while anesthesia is being induced. Chronic hypoxemia brought on by diseases like cystic fibrosis or severe COPD is frequently treated with oxygen treatment. Oxygen can be administered using a face mask or nasal cannula, as well as in high pressure environments like an endotracheal intubation or hyperbaric chamber.

In order for cells to function normally, oxygen is needed. On the other hand, abnormally high quantities of oxygen can cause oxygen toxicity, which can cause lung damage and respiratory failure. In particular when smoking, higher oxygen concentrations can raise the danger of airway fires. Without humidification, oxygen therapy can also cause the nasal mucosa to become dry. In most circumstances, an oxygen saturation of 94–96% is sufficient, although 88–92% saturations are desirable in situations when carbon dioxide retention is a possibility. Saturations should be as high as possible in cases of cardiac arrest or carbon monoxide intoxication.  Normal air contains 21% oxygen by volume; however, oxygen therapy can be used to raise this number to 100%.

People with respiratory disorders like COPD, COVID-19, emphysema, sleep apnea, and others can benefit from supplemental oxygen therapy to help them obtain enough oxygen to work and stay healthy. Hypoxemia, or low blood oxygen levels, can kill you and harm your organs. Oxygen therapy may be required permanently or only sometimes. You feel and sleep better when your blood oxygen levels are healthy.

Every organ in the body, but particularly the brain, heart, and kidneys, can suffer from a lack of oxygen. These organs, along with many others, are kept healthy by wearing supplemental oxygen. There is proof that giving hypoxemic people extra oxygen enhances their quality of life, their ability to exercise, and even their chance of survival.

Additional oxygen may also help you feel better. Breathing difficulties, weariness, vertigo, and sadness may disappear. You might sleep better, be more alert, and have better mood. You might be able to engage in additional activities, such traveling and ascending to high elevations.

Other factors besides a shortage of oxygen may be to blame for symptoms like shortness of breath. In some situations, extra oxygen might not be able to relieve the condition. However, it is still crucial to wear your oxygen if tests reveal you are not getting enough.