Portable Oxygen Concentrators: Assessing the Available Options
Long gone are the days of having multiple cumbersome oxygen tanks on-hand, or needing to constantly schedule a regular delivery of fresh tanks. Or are they?
For a large portion of the medical oxygen community, bulky oxygen tanks are still the norm for treating their chronic respiratory disease. For many people with respiratory diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), supplemental oxygen is a lifeline that cannot be forgone.
Luckily, if you are a patient with a medical oxygen prescription there is a more portable and user friendly option that will vastly improve the overall quality of your life.
What Is a Portable Oxygen Concentrator?
Portable oxygen concentrators (POCs) are the latest advancement in the medical oxygen field that provide greater benefits and usability than standard metal oxygen tanks. Instead of weekly refills, you simply recharge a lithium ion battery.
A POC works by taking ambient air and filtering it through a sieve bed to produce medical grade oxygen. When making the switch from oxygen tanks to a portable oxygen concentrator, you may be overwhelmed with options — but the main thing you want to ensure is that it meets your prescribed oxygen needs, not only today but in the future as well.
Today we will discuss the varying POC options that are available so you can choose one that not only satisfies your oxygen needs, but also your lifestyle needs.
Pulse vs. Continuous Flow Oxygen Concentrators
When you first start to check out portable oxygen concentrators, you will notice you have two options, pulse flow or continuous flow.
- Pulse Flow: A pulse flow POC will deliver a pulsed dose of oxygen on-demand when the device senses a breath is being taken.
- Continuous Flow: Continuous flow POCs are a little different — instead of delivering oxygen when a breath is sensed, they deliver a continuous stream of oxygen.
When you receive a diagnosis that requires the need for medical grade oxygen, your doctor will assess your needs and will prescribe a recommended flow of oxygen. You may be prescribed either pulse or continuous flow, or your doctor may recommend a continuous flow during more strenuous activities such as exercise and pulse for less demanding tasks.
Your Oxygen Prescription Includes…
- The flow rate or percentage of oxygen required at rest, during exercise and during sleep. (For example, 2 liters per minute (LPM) continuous, or 2 pulse flow).
- The length of daily oxygen treatment. How long you should be using your POC to receive oxygen therapy each day.
- Oxygen delivery method. Either by mask or nasal cannula.
If you are an oxygen patient who also suffers from obstructed sleep apnea (OSA), connecting your CPAP or BiPAP machine is possible, but with only the use of a POC with continuous flow capabilities.
Next Page: Things to Consider and Flow Portable Oxygen Concentrators