For patients with COPD or any kind of pulmonary disorder, oxygen therapy is often prescribed to improve their quality of life. Portable oxygen concentrator devices are becoming more common, replacing the bulky oxygen tanks of yesteryear. If your doctor has recently recommended a portable oxygen concentrator, you may be wondering what these devices are and the basics of how they work.
Portable oxygen concentrators (POCs) are medical devices that are used by those with low blood oxygen levels, like in cases of COPD. These devices receive air from the ambient environment, purify it, and distribute the new air into a mask or cannula, which is worn by the patient. The air around you is mostly made up of nitrogen with some oxygen, but after going through the POC, is almost entirely made of oxygen, with very little nitrogen. The device is made with smart technology that can separate the nitrogen, giving you a high concentration of pure oxygen—a POC is the best and most efficient way to do this.
A portable oxygen concentrator device is designed with convenience and freedom in mind, and often weighs just a few pounds. You can take your POC with you anywhere, and it can be powered by either battery or by plugging it into an outlet. There are also many wonderful accessories like carrying cases and backpacks that you can use to travel with your POC.
One of the best things about portable oxygen concentrators is the customization options available. Most models can deliver a range of oxygen doses (typically between 1-5 L/min), as well as dose types; you can choose from a continuous flow or pulse-dose unit. Many patients use their portable oxygen concentrator while out and about, as well as at home, including during sleep. If you have higher oxygen needs, or your doctor has recommended overnight oxygen, many of these units will work for you. Some can be adapted to work with CPAP or BiPAP machines, too!
When you are getting the right amount of oxygen, you are able to participate in life more and feel freer to do the things you love. You can be more active and adventurous, and feel good that you’re taking care of yourself, even with a condition like COPD.