Travel and at Home Oxygen
Supplemental oxygen, worn at least 15 hours a day , increases survival in some patients. And today’s portable oxygen technology allows you to utilize portable oxygen therapy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, anytime, anywhere.*
*Medical oxygen is prescription only
Improves Exercise Tolerance
Studies show that using supplemental oxygen during exercise allows you to exercise longer, at a higher intensity, which means you’ll reap greater rewards for all your efforts.
On the Go
POCs can be carried just about anywhere. Where exactly you can bring them depends largely on the individual concentrator and regulations.
They are small enough to fit behind the driver’s seat or passenger’s seat. Most of them have car chargers (either included or sold separately), so battery life is not an issue in car travel since the battery can be charged throughout the trip.
They can be brought on short train rides with ease with a backpack or shoulder bag. For longer train trips that take multiple hours, it is important to notify the train company beforehand so they can give you important information about their rules and where to receive a charge. However, most portable oxygen concentrators will not be allowed if they will rely solely on electricity provided by the train, so it is important to have a strong battery.
They can be brought on small boats, but it is important to find a power source to charge the battery, or make the trip short enough where there will be plenty of battery left when it is over. In addition, the oxygen concentrator should never be put in a situation where it could get wet.
Air travel is naturally the most strict when it comes to what you can and cannot bring onboard. It is important to research whether or not a POC is approved by the FAA. A seat with a power port may be requested by contacting the airline, but use will always vary based on availability.
For the Home
When it comes to using an oxygen concentrator at home, many people worry about increased energy use. Since a stationary oxygen concentrator machine is constantly running, it will have an impact on energy use, which could translate to an increased cost on the electric bill.
What are the signs that a person needs oxygen treatment?
Shortness of breath is often the first sign that someone will require oxygen therapy. However, it can also be a sign of other problems, so it is helpful to be familiar with other signs of low blood oxygen levels. If you or someone you love is experiencing any of these symptoms, especially in conjunction with shortness of breath, seek medical help:
High blood pressure
Lack of coordination
Sense of euphoria
Who needs oxygen therapy?
Oxygen therapy is prescribed for people who can’t get enough oxygen on their own. This is often because of lung conditions that prevents the lungs from absorbing oxygen, including:
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
bronchopulmonary dysplasia, underdeveloped lungs in newborns
trauma to the respiratory system
To determine whether a person will benefit from oxygen therapy, doctors test the amount of oxygen in their arterial blood. Another way to check is using a pulse oximeter that indirectly measures oxygen levels, or saturation, without requiring a blood sample. The pulse oximeter clips onto a person’s body part, like a finger. Low levels mean that a person may be a good candidate for supplemental oxygen.
Normal levels of arterial blood oxygen are between 75 and 100 mmHg (millimeters of mercury). An oxygen level of 60 mmHg or lower indicates the need for supplemental oxygen. Too much oxygen can be dangerous as well, and can damage the cells in your lungs. Your oxygen level should not go above 110 mmHg.
Some people need oxygen therapy all the time, while others need it only occasionally or in certain situations. Some oxygen therapy is done at a doctor’s office, and other times people have an oxygen supply in their homes, or a portable oxygen system.
What are the symptoms of low oxygen?
When you aren’t getting enough oxygen, you’ll experience a host of symptoms, including:
shortness of breath
fast heart rate
coughing or wheezing
changes in the color of your skin
If you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
What are the different types of oxygen therapies?
There are a number of different types of oxygen therapies that can be used. These include:
hyperbaric oxygen therapy
Oxygen gas can be stored in a portable tank. These are called compressed gas systems. A larger stationary concentrator is used within the home, and a smaller oxygen tank can be taken to use outside the home. The smaller tanks might be used along with oxygen-conserving devices so that the oxygen supply lasts longer. The oxygen is delivered in pulses, not continuously.
Liquid oxygen also can be stored in a portable tank. Liquid oxygen is more highly concentrated, so more oxygen can fit in a smaller tank. This is helpful for people who are very active, but it will evaporate if it isn’t used in a timely manner. These tanks are refillable. Both liquid oxygen and oxygen gas are available for home delivery in many locations.
Oxygen concentrators are less portable than the other options. An oxygen concentrator is a device that takes oxygen from the room, concentrates it for therapeutic use, and removes other naturally occurring gases. The benefits of concentrators are that they are less expensive and don’t require filling like tanks. Portable versions are available. However, most models are too large to be truly portable. Oxygen is distributed from the tank through a tube. It enters the lungs through nasal tubes, a face mask, or a tube inserted directly into the person’s windpipe.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is unlike the other methods of oxygen therapy. People will breathe in pure oxygen in a pressurized room or chamber. In the hyperbaric chambers, the air pressure is increased to three or four times the normal air pressure levels. This increases the amount of oxygen delivered to the body’s tissue. This type of oxygen delivery is often used to treat wounds, serious infections, or bubbles of air in your blood vessels. Hyperbaric therapy should be carried out carefully so that blood oxygen levels don’t become too high.
The most common delivery method is the nasal cannula, which consists of a tube that runs through both nostrils. Other delivery methods include:
the nonrebreather mask
the incubator (for infants)
continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
What are the benefits of oxygen therapy?
Oxygen therapy can be extremely beneficial for those who frequently experience low oxygen levels, regardless of the reason. If needed, regularly utilizing oxygen therapy can allow people to be more active and mobile by decreasing shortness of breath. It also can significantly improve quality of life, and in many cases extend life expectancy.
Oxygen therapy can also reduce symptoms such as:
Oxygen therapy can help the growth and development of children who have chronic lung conditions. It can also lessen symptoms such as headaches caused by low oxygen levels, and behavioral changes or problems.
How does oxygen therapy help with COPD?
Many people with severe COPD require long-term oxygen therapy. COPD is an umbrella term that includes progressive lung diseases that lead to increased breathlessness. Some people will experience declining lung function over time, leading them to struggle to get enough oxygen.
Long term, regular oxygen therapy can significantly improve the quality and length of life for people with COPD. Many of them may need to receive oxygen therapy for at least 15 hours every day.
In one study, a trusted source found that continuous supplemental oxygen is most beneficial to people with COPD, and can increase survival rates.
What are the guidelines for using oxygen therapy?
Your doctor will write you a prescription to begin oxygen therapy. They’ll tell you how to use it and how often you should use it. This will include the flow rate, or how much oxygen you’ll need per minute. It is essential that you follow all of your doctor’s specific instructions. If you don’t think the oxygen therapy is working for you, see them before making any changes.
Some people only need oxygen during certain activities, like exercising or sleeping. Other people need oxygen constantly. Most types of oxygen therapy come with portable oxygen tanks so you can leave home with them if necessary.
Do not use drugs or alcohol while taking oxygen therapy, as they can slow your breathing. When discussing oxygen therapy with your doctor, make them aware of any other prescription medications you may be taking.
What are the safety considerations for oxygen therapy?
Even though oxygen is not a flammable gas, it’s also necessary for combustion. Fires in areas with excessive oxygen are likely to burn more quickly. Be cautious with oxygen tanks around open flames and heaters, and be sure to store oxygen tanks safely.
Do not smoke or have open flames in the room where a person is using oxygen.
Place more fire alarms throughout the home to help prevent serious complications.
When cooking, keep oxygen away from the stove, oven, and any grease.
To avoid tripping over the oxygen tank or tubing, tape the tube to the back of your shirt.
Only store oxygen in an area where air moves freely around the tank. Do not store it in a trunk or a small closet.
What is the outlook for people who use oxygen therapy?
Many people who need supplemental oxygen live normal, active lives. In many cases, the oxygen therapy helps make activity easier, increases stamina, and decreases shortness of breath. In some cases, oxygen therapy can increase life expectancy.
Even people who need ongoing therapy due to chronic conditions can live normal lives. Once a person learns to manage the oxygen equipment, the therapy doesn’t have to limit their routine.