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January 21, 2020 | Farah Jassawalla

Oxygen shots: healthy or harmful?

Ever wondered why oxygen shots are in the limelight these days? Well, if you are curious about the hype, then you are certainly not the only one! Oxygen shots, which are readily available in casinos, nightclubs, and oxygen bars, contain purified oxygen, which is infused with different scents.

Recent years have witnessed an exponentially rising trend in the establishment of oxygen bars all over the world. This is especially true for countries such as Canada and Japan that have experienced a "craze" of oxygen shots.

Oxygen shots are served in glass cylinders that have a plastic tube through which the oxygen has to be inhaled. The normal level of oxygen in the air is 21%, which is considerably lower than the 95% level in oxygen shots; this is essentially from where the "high" comes.

Proponents of these shots claim they help relieve stress, boost energy, and cure headaches. The ultra-high levels of purified oxygen in shots can play a significant role in uplifting mood, improving athletic performance, and enhancing concentration and alertness. Supporters of oxygen shots strengthen their arguments by claiming that doctors have long been prescribing patients that have cancer, pulmonary diseases, or heart conditions to inhale oxygen.

Despite these propositions, the long-term effects of oxygen shots on the human body are still ambiguous.  As per the American Lung Association, there is minimal chance of oxygen shots having any beneficial impact on the physiological well-being of a person. However, there is no substantial evidence to prove that these shots are detrimental to health.

While supplemental oxygen is beneficial for certain medical conditions, very high amounts can be hazardous for health. A study published in The Lancet in 2018 revealed that oxygen therapy could lead to death if given liberally to patients with acute illnesses. Health professionals are of the opinion that the average 21% of the oxygen that human beings breathe is enough to make their blood saturated. Therefore, any additional amounts of oxygen inhaled in will not be absorbed into our bloodstream, and will only cause harm rather than any benefit.

Furthermore, the scents used in oxygen shots are infused by bubbling oxygen through aromatic oils or other oil-based scented liquids. Inhaling oxygen infused with artificial fragrances can be hazardous to the health of people and can lead to headaches or dizziness. In addition, the equipment provided in bars to inhale the oxygen might not be properly sterilized. If you are already suffering from any pulmonary disease, then you are at a higher risk of getting infected because of the unclean equipment. Your existing health conditions can also exacerbate because of the lack of standardization and cleanliness of the equipment.

It is not only people with cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases that should avoid getting oxygen shots but also individuals who have received chemotherapy who need to refrain from these shots. If you have received chemotherapy in the past, then very high levels of oxygen can be hazardous for you. Even if you are a healthy person overall, you are exposing your lungs to potential harm by frequently taking oxygen shots.

If you are really a fan of oxygen shots and do not wish to give up, then we suggest that you reduce the frequency of consuming them. The oxygen experience that ranges from euphoria, energy boosts, and reduced stress is only temporary but can cause lifelong lung damage. Your health is very important, and no amount of recreation should come in the way of you and your health. So stay safe, and while a little party didn't kill anybody, a lot of party might be a bit of a problem.

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Farah Jassawalla

Farah Jassawalla is a graduate of the Lahore School of Economics. She is also a writer, and a healthcare enthusiast, having closely observed case studies while working with Lahore's thriving general physicians at their clinics.