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How long do people live after starting on oxygen?

Oxygen therapy is a crucial treatment option for individuals with respiratory conditions, providing them with the necessary oxygen to alleviate symptoms and improve their quality of life. This therapy involves the use of supplemental oxygen, delivered through various methods such as nasal cannulas or face masks. While oxygen therapy is known to be effective in managing respiratory conditions, many individuals wonder about its impact on longevity. How long do people live after starting on oxygen? In this blog post, we will explore the survival rates for individuals on oxygen therapy and delve into the causes of death among this population. Additionally, we will discuss the prescription and duration of oxygen therapy and how it can affect survival rates. Finally, we will explore strategies to improve longevity and quality of life for individuals on oxygen therapy.

Survival Rates for Individuals on Oxygen Therapy

One study found that the median survival time for individuals on oxygen therapy was 1.9 years, with an interquartile range of 0.7 to 4.0 years. This means that half of the individuals in the study lived less than 1.9 years, while the other half lived longer. However, it is important to note that individual outcomes may vary based on several factors.

Factors that Influence Survival Rates

There are several factors that can influence survival rates for individuals on oxygen therapy:

1. Underlying Respiratory Condition: The specific respiratory condition that necessitates oxygen therapy can significantly impact longevity. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and interstitial lung disease are commonly associated with increased mortality rates.

2. Age and Overall Health: Age and overall health play a crucial role in determining survival rates. Elderly individuals or those with multiple comorbidities may have a shorter life expectancy compared to younger, healthier individuals.

3. Compliance with Oxygen Therapy: Adhering to the prescribed oxygen therapy regimen is essential for improving survival rates. Non-compliance or inadequate use of oxygen therapy can exacerbate respiratory symptoms and increase the risk of complications.

Causes of Death among Individuals on Oxygen Therapy

The main causes of death among individuals on oxygen therapy include respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.

Respiratory Diseases

Respiratory diseases, such as COPD and interstitial lung disease, account for a significant proportion of deaths in this population. These conditions lead to progressive lung damage and respiratory failure, making individuals more susceptible to respiratory infections and other complications.

Cardiovascular Diseases

Cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and strokes, are also prevalent among individuals on oxygen therapy. Many respiratory conditions are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, and these comorbidities can further impact longevity.


Although less common than respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, cancer can also contribute to mortality among individuals on oxygen therapy. It is essential for healthcare providers to closely monitor individuals on oxygen therapy for signs of cancer and provide appropriate care.

Prescription and Duration of Oxygen Therapy

The duration of oxygen therapy can vary depending on the individual’s needs. In some cases, individuals may require oxygen therapy 24 hours a day, while others may need it for a specific number of hours per day. According to one cohort study, 24% of patients were prescribed oxygen therapy 24 hours a day, 55% were prescribed 15 hours a day, and 21% had other daily durations prescribed.

Guidelines for Prescription and Duration

The prescription and duration of oxygen therapy are determined based on several factors, including blood oxygen saturation levels, lung function tests, and the severity of the underlying respiratory condition. Healthcare providers follow established guidelines to ensure that individuals receive the appropriate amount of oxygen needed to maintain adequate oxygen levels in the body.

Impact of Duration on Survival Rates

The impact of duration on survival rates for individuals on oxygen therapy is still a topic of ongoing research. However, it is generally believed that consistent and appropriate oxygen therapy can improve survival rates by alleviating symptoms and reducing the risk of complications.

Improving Longevity and Quality of Life with Oxygen Therapy

While oxygen therapy is essential for individuals with respiratory conditions, there are several strategies that can help improve longevity and enhance their quality of life.

Regular Follow-ups and Adjustments to Oxygen Therapy

Regular follow-up appointments with healthcare providers are crucial to monitor the effectiveness of oxygen therapy and make any necessary adjustments. This ensures that individuals are receiving the optimal amount of oxygen for their specific needs.

Incorporation of Exercise and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Programs

Exercise and pulmonary rehabilitation programs can play a significant role in improving lung function and overall health for individuals on oxygen therapy. These programs include various exercises, breathing techniques, and education on managing respiratory symptoms.

Emotional and Psychological Support

Living with a respiratory condition and being on oxygen therapy can have emotional and psychological impacts. Providing emotional and psychological support to individuals on oxygen therapy is vital to help them cope with the challenges they may face and improve their overall well-being.


Oxygen therapy is a valuable treatment option for individuals with respiratory conditions, providing them with the necessary oxygen to manage symptoms and improve their quality of life. While survival rates can vary depending on factors such as underlying respiratory condition, age, and compliance with therapy, oxygen therapy has been shown to extend the lives of many individuals. By closely monitoring and adjusting oxygen therapy as needed, individuals can improve their longevity and overall well-being. Additionally, incorporating exercise and pulmonary rehabilitation programs, along with emotional and psychological support, can further enhance the benefits of oxygen therapy. It is crucial for healthcare providers to individualize treatment plans and provide ongoing support to individuals on oxygen therapy to ensure the best possible outcomes.


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