Choosing Portable Oxygen Concentrators & How They Work
Portable oxygen concentrators help you meet your oxygen therapy requirements without placing a burden on your daily activities.
These devices are prescribed for low oxygen levels or for people whose oxygen levels plummet with activity.
What Are Portable Oxygen Concentrators For?
Oxygen therapy is prescribed for conditions such as COPD or severe asthma. Usually, a Respiratory Therapist will diagnose your need for oxygen therapy. Your diagnoses include oxygen levels to maintain and the best way to get your concentrator to deliver the oxygen.
Oxygen therapy increases the amount of oxygen you get with every breath you take. The more oxygen in each breath, the more oxygen your lungs can supply to your blood stream. A well-oxygenated body is a healthy body.
No matter the initial cause (asthma, pneumonia, sleep apnea, etc.), oxygen therapy is necessary when the sacks in your lungs (alveoli) can’t get enough oxygen to your blood stream.
Low oxygen blood makes it difficult for your tissues to maintain metabolism. Your body senses low oxygen levels and forces you to breathe faster.
Low oxygen levels put a strain on your heart and cause fatigue. This type of stress on your body over the years can lead to heart failure.
Oxygen therapy minimizes the health effects caused by low oxygenated blood. Portable oxygen concentrators give you the freedom to leave your home while on oxygen.
How do portable concentrators work?
Portable oxygen concentrators work on the same principle as full sized oxygen concentrators. They use small air compressors and a system of chemical filters known as a molecular sleeve to concentrate the oxygen.
Modern portable oxygen concentrators can easily produce 5 liters of oxygen per minute. Technology has made significant leaps in improving the user experience of portable oxygen concentrators. Improvements in battery technology have also made portable oxygen concentrators practical for longer trips.
Today, you can easily charge your oxygen concentrator using regular outlets. You can easily use portable oxygen concentrators while golfing, driving and even on airplanes.
There are two types of delivery methods for portable oxygen concentrators:
Pulse Flow/Pulse Delivery
Pulse delivery/flow delivers your oxygen in sporadic bursts of air, which is measured in milliliters per breath. Most respiratory therapists prescribe pulse delivery for use while awake, but it has been shown to be effective on sleeping patients.
Remember liters per minute (LPM), is NOT the same as breaths per milliliter!
Continuous Flow/Continuous Delivery
This is the most common type of oxygen delivery. Continuous flow is measured in liters per minute. Therapeutic ranges of continuous flow oxygen is between 1 – 3 liters per minute.
As technology has progressed, most portable oxygen concentrators are now able to handle a continuous flow. Before, continuous flow was something only larger home oxygen concentrators were able to handle.
Are there different kinds of portable oxygen?
There are three main types of portable oxygen. Each option has advantages and disadvantages. People usually choose the option that best suits their lifestyle and budget.
A Respiratory Therapist can give you an educated recommendation as to which portable oxygen system is best for you.
Oxygen tanks are filled with oxygen at a pressure of 2200 psi. The amount of oxygen in a tank is proportional to the pressure it holds. For example, at 1100 psi the tank is half empty and at about 700 the tank is about two-thirds empty.
The amount of time an oxygen tank lasts depends on the flow setting. You can use simple formulas to calculate how long your oxygen tank will last.
By the way, you can use this calculator on to see how much longer you have left in your tank. http://www.manuelsweb.com/O2remaining.htm
Portable oxygen concentrators
Portable oxygen concentrators are also an option. These devices work just like regular concentrators except they run on batteries.
In short, the only limitation of portable oxygen concentrators is the battery power. You can use them in any public place, and you can even travel with them.
The last choice and the most expensive is liquid oxygen. Liquid oxygen lasts the longest of all the portable oxygen forms.
One issue with liquid oxygen is that it continuously outputs oxygen, so you have to use it daily to benefit. It’s also difficult to access and refill liquid oxygen.
If you’re looking to invest in a portable oxygen concentrator, here are 3 quality ones for you to consider:
Respironics SimplyGo Mini Portable System
This is a quality portable oxygen concentrator that comes from the same company responsible for the EverFlo Q oxygen concentrator.
This is a pulse delivery only system, so keep this in mind if you need continuous flow. This device uses a nasal cannula to deliver oxygen.
The SimplyGo weighs less than 5 pounds, so it’s convenient for virtually anyone to carry around. This unit is FAA approved for travelling and comes with a 3-year warranty.
SeQual eQuinox Portable Concentrator
Next up is an expensive oxygen concentrator, but you get exactly what you pay for. The SeQual eQuinox is a high-quality unit with both pulse and continuous flow delivery.
This machine weighs 14 pounds, and you can expect around 5.7 hours of use on a full battery. You can also upgrade battery sizes if you need it to last longer.
The SeQual eQuinox is FAA approved to be used on any commercial flights. The unit runs very quietly at around 37 decibels. 30 decibels is around the noise level of whispering in a quiet room.
In summary, you have high expectations or needs from your oxygen concentrator, then this is a good option. It meets every requirement that you would need in a portable oxygen concentrator. You also get a 3-year manufacturer warranty with your purchase.
Tranquil Sounds Oxygen Bar
Next, is a cheaper alternative to most portable oxygen concentrators. Depending on how severe your oxygen needs are, this may not be the best option for you.
The Tranquil Sounds unit produces 30% enriched oxygen and has a silent compressor with baffler. There is a speaker built into the unit, which plays relaxing sounds if you’re in the mood. This music can be turned off if you want.
This unit is a bit heavy, weighing in at 13-pounds.
As a final point on this device, if you have high expectations of your portable oxygen concentrator, then you may want to select a more expensive unit with more features.
In summary, the best portable oxygen concentrator for you depends on your required flow rate, choose will depend on your oxygen flow rate, your budget, and your ability to carry portable oxygen concentrator around. Always remember to be safe around oxygen devices.
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