How to pick a portable oxygen concentrator

In: How to Buy Portable Oxygen Concentrators

16 Jun 2010

Oxygen Sequal Eclipse POCYou are in the market to buy a portable concentrator, how do you choose the model that is right for you?  Choosing a portable concentrator or rather matching your oxygen therapy needs to a portable concentrator is actually an in-depth process.

To begin with, your activity level and lifestyle need to be taken into account, as well as your long term oxygen therapy needs.  Ideally, the portable oxygen concentrator you choose will be flexible enough to accommodate a variety of settings each day.  As the day progresses your oxygen therapy needs will change depending on activities and location.  You need a portable concentrator that can accommodate your specific needs.

An easy way to assess your personal oxygen therapy needs is to break down your oxygen usage into four basic categories:

  1. oxygen therapy at home
  2. oxygen therapy while exercising
  3. oxygen therapy while sleeping
  4. oxygen therapy at altitude.

While typical oxygen therapy at home for you may be doing minimal ADL’s (activities of daily living) like light house keeping or fixing a meal which requires one setting on your portable concentrator, exercising or more strenuous activity may require another setting.  During sleep respiratory patterns change and may require yet another setting and finally if you travel to a higher elevation than you are accustomed to your oxygen therapy needs may change yet again.

respironics_evergoKeep these four categories in mind as you look to buy a portable concentrator. Another factor in choosing a portable concentrator is your specific respiratory patterns.  What are the your respiratory mechanics, what is your pattern of inspiration and expiration.  In simple terms how often and how long does it take you to inhale.  Some portable concentrators, like the SeQual Eclipse 3 have adjustable settings to fine tune how quickly and how much oxygen is delivered to a patient.

This clinical information should not be overlooked when evaluating your portable concentrator purchase.  One patient may require a 20ml bolus of oxygen delivered in 300 milliseconds while another person could receive the same titration with the same bolus delivered in 400 milliseconds.  By observing oximetry results proper dosing can be fine tuned in some of the more sophisticated delivery systems.

Some patients require the ability to have a continuous flow up to three liters so that limits number of POC’s to choose from.  Perhaps your oxygen therapy needs can be accommodated with a smaller liter flow and a pulse only portable concentrator will suffice.  What many users of portable concentrators fail to do is adjust their pulse dose setting for the different categories of oxygen use.  You need to determine through the use of an oximeter what is the correct setting for exercise, rest, or altitude.

invacare_xpo2_portable_systemAnother factor that may be a consideration is the current and future state of the disease causing the need for oxygen therapy.  Is the need for oxygen progressing quickly, and will a sufficient liter flow today be sufficient in the future.  Will the portable concentrator you are considering today be able to accommodate you in the future?  If you could maintain your oxygen saturation today on a POC that is only pulse dose, great, but in the future you may require a higher continuous flow oxygen.

Many oxygen therapy patients looking to buy a portable oxygen concentrator are enamored with the small form factor of pulse only portable concentrators.  But for some patients, the unit works well in a stationary mode, but the minute the patient is exercising or their respiratory rate goes above 15 – 25 breaths per minute the smaller units have to cut their bolus size and cannot deliver the same amount of oxygen as during rest.  The smallest portable concentrators weighing any where from 6 to 10 pounds only produce a maximum of about 1 liter per minute continuous.  This can lead to a decrease in oxygen saturation at a time when your oxygen needs are the greatest.

Continuous flow concentrators capable of 3 liters per minute all weigh about 18 pounds.  Can you lift 18 pounds into your car?  If you are planning to travel with the portable concentrator the weight of the unit has got to be considered.  It does not matter if the unit is 8 pounds or 18 pounds, all of the portable concentrators have optional wheels, and most people pull them around anyway.

Be sure consider all of these factors when you are looking to purchase a portable concentrator, make sure the concentrator you choose to buy is the best for your and your lifestyle.

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If you have any questions about oxygen concentrators, liquid oxygen, portable oxygen, you have come to the right place. Whether you are lookiing to buy a POC, rent a POC for a trip, or understand how what that alarm means, you have come to the right place. Since 1992 we have immerseed in all things Oxygen Therapy, here you will find not only a users perspective, you will find the technicians perspective! Welcome!!