Banner: IPF Treatment

Oxygen therapy

Oxygen is a basic need for human life. However, breathing disorders such as IPF can affect the transfer of oxygen from the lungs into the blood. As a result, the oxygen level in the blood drops, and the body’s organs, tissues and cells can become oxygen deprived – potentially causing symptoms of fatigue, dizziness, irritability, and lack of concentration.1,2

IPF Treatment

Backgrounder: IPF Treatment

To ensure your organs get enough oxygen to function properly, your physician may recommend supplemental oxygen, a treatment that can help reduce shortness of breath and improve your ability to perform everyday tasks.3,4

Since oxygen is considered a medicine, your doctor must prescribe it. Based on a series of tests that measure your oxygen saturation and arterial blood gases, the prescription will spell out the oxygen flow rate, how much oxygen you need per minute and when you need to use your extra oxygen, especially tailored to your personal needs.

At first, you may only need supplemental oxygen during exercise and sleep, but as the disease progresses and the lungs increasingly lose their ability to oxygenate the blood, extra oxygen may be required all the time to keep oxygen levels in your blood at a healthy level.

Furthermore, your pulmonologist will discuss which type of oxygen and delivery system best suits your lifestyle. Supplemental oxygen is usually given through nasal prongs or a mask and can be delivered in one of three forms:5

  • as liquid oxygen,
  • as compressed gas,
  • or in a concentrated form.

The right choice for you depends on how much oxygen you need and when you need it, where you live, your electrical supply and how active you are.

Although you may need extra oxygen in the long term, this doesn’t mean that you have to limit your daily routines. Quite the opposite - when a prescription of supplemental oxygen is made, it may improve your activity levels and exercise capacity.3 Today, even travelling with extra oxygen is possible with proper planning. Learn more about travelling with IPF and find some helpful information in our “Travelling with IPF” chapter.

Will I need oxygen therapy?

Expert video: Will I need oxygen  therapy?

Patient journey

IPF Patient Journey – Oxygen Therapy


  1. Raghu G., et al. Incidence and prevalence of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2006;174:810–816.
  2. Woodcock HV., et al. The treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. F1000prime Rep 2014;6:16.
  3. Raghu G., et al. An official ATS/ERS/JRS/ALAT statement: idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis: evidence-based guidelines for diagnosis and management. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2011;183:788–824.
  4. Egan JJ. Follow-up and nonpharmacological management of the idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis patient. Eur Respir Rev Off J Eur Respir Soc 2011;20:114–117.
  5. American Thoracic Society. Patient Education: Oxygen Therapy. Available at: Accessed June 27, 2016.

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