Here at LPT Medical, we’ve always taken pride in offering respiratory patients the resources they need to make educated decisions about their condition. With all the misinformation that’s out there on the web, it’s been our top priority to provide detailed, transparent, and factual information about issues that affect you the most such as oxygen therapy, diet, and exercise.
Rather than discussing untested alternative therapies or drastic lifestyle changes, we focus on practical solutions that are backed by decades of scientific studies. We also like to stress the importance of having open lines of communication with your doctor and pulmonologist, because ultimately, he/she understands the complexities of the disease you face better than anyone.
Given the current circumstances regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), we understand if you’re skeptical of any information that you read on the internet. In times like these, people often rush to disseminate information without taking the time to first verify its validity. To counter this, we’re going to stick to a topic that we know and love — portable oxygen concentrators.
If you’re stuck at home due to the coronavirus lockdowns, you may be wondering what use you’d have with a “portable” oxygen concentrator. After all, these oxygen machines were designed for people who want to get out of their house and get moving. But this doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t a great option for people with a sedentary lifestyle as well. Read on to learn more and be sure to fill out the contact form at the side of the page if you want to speak with a respiratory specialist.
What is a Portable Oxygen Concentrator?
An oxygen concentrator is a device that takes ambient air, removes nitrogen, argon, and other impurities, and puts out high-grade medical oxygen. Until recently, all oxygen concentrators were immobile and they had to be plugged into an electrical outlet in order to operate. This wasn’t ideal, because many oxygen patients felt restricted in what they could do and accomplish in their day-to-day life.
In the early 2000s, oxygen concentrators began to be replaced by lightweight portable oxygen concentrators. Rather than running off of a wall outlet, these new oxygen machines had batteries that could be charged and replaced, making it easier than ever for oxygen patients to get out of the house with the comfort of having access to high-grade medical oxygen wherever they went. While these new oxygen generators had many benefits over their counterparts, home oxygen concentrators remain popular to this day.
There are two different types of portable oxygen concentrators on the market: continuous flow portable oxygen concentrators and pulse dose (pulse flow) portable oxygen concentrators. A pulse dose unit conserves power by only administering oxygen when the user inhales and a continuous flow unit puts out a constant stream of oxygen. Because they have to filter more air, continuous flow portable oxygen concentrators tend to be a lot larger and bulkier. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons portable oxygen concentrators are often the best option for in-home oxygen therapy.
1.) You Can Navigate Your Home More Easily
Although portable oxygen concentrators are designed for people who want to get out of the house, people often forget that they’re also a great option for anyone who wants to navigate their home more easily as well. From doing chores to cooking dinner and performing your daily pulmonary exercise routine, it’s imperative that COPD patients stay as active as possible.
First and foremost, portable oxygen concentrators are the lightest oxygen devices on the market. Pulse dose portable oxygen concentrators usually weigh under 6 pounds which is light enough to sling over your shoulder and carry with you wherever you go without suffering back pain or fatigue. The Inogen One G5, for example, weighs in at just 4.7 pounds and it still has a higher oxygen output than most POCs on the market.
On the other hand, people who use an oxygen tank or home oxygen concentrator find that there’s a lot to be desired. When it comes to compressed oxygen, the size of the unit directly correlates to the amount of oxygen you’ll have access to. This is because oxygen can only be compressed to a certain pound-force per square inch (psi) before it becomes too dangerous to use. Home oxygen concentrators will provide you with an infinite supply of oxygen, but they need to be plugged into an electrical outlet at all times, meaning they’re not ideal for someone who wants to navigate their home more easily.
2.) They’re Safer Than Their Alternatives
Safety should be a top priority when handling oxygen. Although oxygen is an essential gas that we depend on every day for our survival, it also has a lot of risks associated with it when it’s not handled properly. Contrary to popular belief, oxygen is not a flammable gas, but it is what’s called an oxidizer. This means that anything that oxygen is exposed to, it becomes more flammable. In other words, a fire that’s exposed to high levels of oxygen will burn more easily than a fire that is not exposed to high levels of oxygen.
The problem with compressed oxygen, liquid oxygen, and home oxygen concentrators is that they all use continuous flow oxygen delivery. If you happen to drop your nasal cannula and leave it there, you could be putting yourself and loved ones in danger. However, the pulse dose technology that’s used in many portable oxygen concentrators cuts off the oxygen supply if no breath is detected. While this is implemented in order to save battery life, it also acts as a safety mechanism.
With everything that’s going on in the world right now, it’s imperative that you feel safe within your own home. You likely already spend a lot of time disinfecting your home and following all other coronavirus prevention protocol, so having a safe oxygen concentrator will give you one less thing to worry about during these uncertain times.
3.) They’re More Affordable Than Their Alternatives
Unfortunately, many people will invest in a home oxygen concentrator or oxygen tank with the assumption that it’s the cheapest option available to them. But when you take into consideration both upfront and long-term costs, you’ll find that portable oxygen concentrators can be as cost-effective if not more so than their counterparts.
Oxygen tanks are appealing to many oxygen users because of their low upfront cost. You can purchase an oxygen tank for several hundred dollars, but this doesn’t take into account the costs that will be incurred over the next several months and years. If you want to refill your own oxygen tanks, you’ll need to buy what’s called a “home fill station.” These will run you several thousand dollars, not to mention they take up a lot of space. Alternatively, if you choose to have a professional refill your oxygen tanks, you’ll likely incur hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in service costs.
When you purchase a portable oxygen concentrator, you’ll eliminate the majority of these long-term costs. These machines are designed to be energy efficient and they’re made of durable components that will last for years to come without needing to be replaced. In fact, most POCs on the market are designed to last 5 years or more. In the event that you receive a defective unit, you’ll be happy to know that most POCs come with a 3-year warranty which can often be extended to 5-year or even a lifetime warranty.
4.) They Offer More Choices for Patients
Life is all about choices, and the more choices we have, the more freedom we have. Unfortunately, home oxygen concentrators and oxygen tanks don’t offer much in the way of options. While you will be able to choose between different brands, there isn’t a large degree of difference between the actual units themselves aside from quality and size.
Portable oxygen concentrators, on the other hand, offer plenty of options you can choose from, allowing you to pick something that matches your lifestyle. For example, you could purchase a POC like the Caire FreeStyle Comfort which provides you with an outstanding 1,050 ml/min of oxygen or if you want your POC to be as light as possible, you can buy the AirSep Focus which weighs in at only 1.75 pounds!
Another freedom you’ll enjoy with portable oxygen concentrators is the wide range of accessories that’s available for them. Most POCs are released with accessories such as carrying bags, backpacks, rolling carts, battery packs, and external battery charges, all of which enable you to customize and improve your oxygen experience.
5.) Many POCs Offer Telehealth Services
Telehealth is a fairly new concept, but it’s one that’s shaping the future of healthcare. In fact, in the wake of the novel coronavirus, the need for telehealth services has seen a sharp increase due to the fact that more people are staying home, and people with chronic conditions like COPD want to have access to health services without leaving the home. According to a survey by Black Book Market Research, 59 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to use telehealth services given the current circumstances; 33 percent even said they would leave their current physician for one who supports it.
It may surprise you to know that portable oxygen concentrators are paving the way for telehealth technology in many ways. The Caire FreeStyle Comfort, for example, comes equipped with a program called CAIREview™. Essentially, what this does is provides a cost-effective oxygen usage tracking solution for anyone who owns this travel oxygen concentrator. When you want to learn about your oxygen usage, simply download the app on a mobile phone, tablet, or computer. You can even have information sent directly to your pulmonologist.
Another example of telehealth services is the Inogen Connect app for the Inogen One G4 and Inogen One G5 portable oxygen concentrators. This application is similar to the CAIREview™ but it provides some additional functionality. For example, you’ll receive system updates for your G4 and G5 that can fix glitches in the system. You can also receive special discounts and coupons directly from Inogen. The best part of all is that it’s 100 percent free to download and use.
Last but certainly not least, we offer a free Thrive ePulmonary Advanced workshop FREE with the purchase of any portable oxygen concentrator. This is one of the most reputable and trusted online learning programs and you can experience its full benefits without ever leaving the comfort of your own home. The program includes the following:
- Step-by-step breathing exercises
- Online e-books and respiratory guides
- Access to private support groups
- Access to medical professionals including pulmonologists and respiratory therapists
- Learn skills to help slow the progression of your disease
There’s no understating the importance of telehealth services during uncertain times like these. By investing in a portable oxygen concentrator rather than another type of oxygen therapy, you’ll be more connected than ever before despite not being able to leave your home. As a COPD patient, you’ll be able to closely track your oxygen usage and have that information sent directly for your pulmonologist to interpret it.
6.) They’re Great for 24/7 Use
In certain situations, patients may be required to use supplemental oxygen while they sleep. This is more common in people with severe COPD or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a condition where the airways are blocked off during sleep. When this happens, you will need a reliable source of medical oxygen that’s designed for 24/7 use. Most portable oxygen concentrators support nighttime use and POCs like the Inogen One G5 even have a special Sleep Mode Technology that will help deliver precise oxygen boluses while you sleep.
One thing to note about sleeping with oxygen is that pulse dose concentrators are NOT compatible with CPAP and BiPAP machines. The reason for this is because pulse dose concentrators need to be able to detect your breathing to a tee in order to deliver oxygen at the right time. Unfortunately, CPAP and BiPAP machines interfere with this process so you’ll need to use a continuous flow oxygen machine. Home oxygen concentrators and oxygen tanks will work well with your CPAP machine, but continuous flow portable oxygen concentrators will be the ideal choice.
7.) They’re the Best Long-Term Option
Truthfully, the coronavirus lockdown isn’t something we’re going to have to deal with forever. In fact, many states are already talking about ways to reopen their economies and allow people to safely reintegrate into public areas. While it will likely be some time before COPD patients will want to get back out into the world, it’s in your best interest to be prepared for when it does happen.
One thing you’ll probably want to do once the time comes is to start traveling again and in which case, you’re going to want to have a portable oxygen concentrator rather than a bulky oxygen tank. POCs are approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for in-flight use both inside and outside of the United States. They’re also approved by most cruise lines along with other types of transportation.
The last couple of months have been very challenging for many people, especially those with chronic conditions that put them at a higher risk of experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms. Many COPD patients, in particular, are concerned about how they will continue to receive the medical help they need despite not being able to visit their doctor. Fortunately, things like telehealth services are available that can make this a little easier.
When it comes to choosing a medical oxygen device, there are plenty of great options, but we strongly believe portable oxygen concentrators offer the greatest short- and long-term benefits without breaking the bank. If you’d like to learn more about the POCs we have to offer, please fill out the contact form at the side of the page and one of our respiratory specialists will reach out to you as soon as possible.