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What is a Portable Oxygen Concentrator? (Benefits, Uses, and Limitations)

When you’re struggling with a lung disease or a breathing disorder that requires you to use supplemental oxygen, there are some things you can do to make it easier to cope with these issues. Oxygen offers many benefits and now that you have the option of a portable oxygen concentrator, you can now breathe easier while you enjoy your freedom and independence.

What is a Portable Oxygen Concentrator (POC)?

Portable Oxygen Concentrator definition: A POC is a medical device that helps individuals with a low level of blood oxygen. You can plug them into an electrical outlet or power them by a battery. If the battery is spent, you’ll need to charge it back up by plugging it into the electrical outlet. Many of the portable oxygen concentrators also come with an adapter so you can use your device while driving.

Portable oxygen concentrators receive air, purify it and then distribute the changed air. Air is made up of mostly nitrogen and some oxygen before it goes into the concentrator. After going through the concentrator, the air comes out almost all oxygen and very little nitrogen. The device then separates the nitrogen to give the individual as much oxygen as possible, since it’s hard to get the perfect percentage of oxygen without using a medical device like this.

Benefits of a Portable Oxygen Concentrator

There are a number of benefits to a portable oxygen concentrator. Some benefits of a portable oxygen concentrator are:

Easy to Use

Many POCs can be a little confusing to operate. There are what seems to be an endless amount of:

  • Wires
  • Buttons
  • Switches

These can make it very challenging to modify your oxygen therapy and will have your device beeping back at you to let you know you’re not doing it correctly. This is why it’s important to use a device that’s user-friendly like the SimplyGo portable oxygen concentrators.

An easy-to-understand and clean control panel will allow you to monitor your liter flow and battery life easily. It will also make adjustments as simple as pressing one button on the touch screen control display. And there are no worries about exasperating battery belts, irritating internal batteries and confusing connectors. Instead, there’s a lightweight battery that’s very accessible that you can change in just a minute or two.

A Better Night’s Sleep

While you’re sleeping, your oxygen saturation levels tend to drop, even in individuals with healthy lungs. If you have COPD or another type of chronic lung disease, you may suffer with transient nocturnal desaturation which can interfere in your good night’s sleep, leading to substantial health issues.

If your sleep is being frequently disrupted, you should consult with your doctor about having an overnight oximetry test performed. They may end up prescribing you supplemental oxygen therapy during sleep, helping you to sleep better.

Mobility

The newest oxygen concentrators are lightweight and compact as well as very discreet. You can take them with you just about anywhere:

  • Picnics
  • Car Rides
  • Walks in the Park
  • Baseball Games

Many individuals using a POC can work, take part in social events and participate in physical activities. Some POCs are smaller, weighing only six pounds and being only one foot in height.

Increases Stamina

If you don’t have enough energy during your day, it might be because you have low oxygen levels. Oxygen therapy provides you with the stamina you require to perform every day, normal functions like:

  • Cleaning the House
  • Getting Dressed
  • Walking the Dog
  • Preparing Meals

Customized To Meet Your Needs

Whether you have chronic bronchitis, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, you’ll have different needs than the next person who needs oxygen therapy. And, this is why it’s essential your POC is more than a one-size-fits all device. You might want to choose an oxygen concentrator that provides both pulse-flow and continuous flow delivery so you can decide on the best form of oxygen therapy for your needs.

Improves Mental Alertness

Do you feel like you’re always in a mental fog? When you’re not getting the oxygen you need, every one of your body’s organs are affected; even your brain. The first sign that an individual with lung disease isn’t getting enough oxygen is confusion. Supplemental oxygen use helps keep your brain and other important organs healthy.

Independent Lifestyle

POCs make independence obtainable. Individuals can often lead energetic and active lives. Machines are made for mobility and carrying cases, wheeled carts and many other accessories are available to make it easier to get around. You can do anything and go anywhere easily because of the battery life. Not to mention, you can have oxygen in any place that has a plug.

Portable Oxygen Concentrator Uses

People who require oxygen therapy are choosing portable oxygen concentrator because they allow them to continue maintaining their standard and quality of life.

If you’re struggling with severe COPD and you have low oxygen levels in your blood, a POC could help you live a healthier, longer life.

Among the standard treatment approaches for chronic lung diseases like pulmonary fibrosis (PF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema, supplemental oxygen use at the most advanced stages is often prescribed near-universally.

While there are other types of medicine used in tandem, like corticosteroids, inhalers and prescription medicines, supplemental oxygen use has stayed a staple in lung disease treatment for its ability to offer continued respiratory support for individuals struggling with their oxygen intake on a daily level.

Portable Oxygen Concentrator Limitations

While there are many notable positives of a POC, there are a few drawbacks and limitations as well. For instance, POCs aren’t cheap and even the most basic device can cost more than $2,300. Also, Medicare or Medicaid may not cover this high upfront cost because of the industry’s preference for the less expensive supplemental oxygen tanks.

While the high initial investment in a device like this is pretty steep, the exchange for a lifetime of fresh oxygen might be worth the money you pay.

Other drawbacks or limitations reported are noise and battery life, but this is negligible.

Portable Oxygen Concentrators at CPAP.com

If your doctor has recommended a portable oxygen concentrator to help with your breathing problem or you’re trying to decide which one is best, here are some options to consider:

1. Philips Respironics SimplyGo Mini Portable Oxygen Concentrator with Pulse Dose Flow – This is the portable solution to turn to if you need oxygen on the go. You get pulse dose flow that helps extend the life of the battery.

2. Philips Respironics SimplyGo Portable Oxygen Concentrator with Pulse Dose and Continuous Flow – You get the power of a standard stationary oxygen concentrator, but in a travel-friendly, portable package. It also provides both pulse dose and continuous flow modes for extra versatility.

3. Inogen One G3 Portable Oxygen Concentrator with Pulse Dose Flow – A compact oxygen concentrator made for providing pulse dose oxygen on the go or at home.

4. Inogen One G4 Portable Oxygen Concentrator with Pulse Dose Flow – Weighing only 2.8 pounds and feels more like your carrying a briefcase or purse, this lightweight portable concentrator weighs half the weight of the Inogen One G3.

5. ResMed Activox™ Portable Oxygen Concentrator with Pulse Dose Flow – A versatile POC with the active user in mind. It has an internal battery so you can unplug the concentrator and take it with you on the go quickly.

For more information, visit CPAP.com to learn more about the portable oxygen concentrators available.

David Repasky has been using CPAP treatment since 2017 and has first-hand experience with what it’s like to live with Sleep Apnea. He brings the patient’s perspective to the CPAP.com blog and has received formal training in CPAP machines, masks, and equipment.

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