If you have a blood, cardiac, or pulmonary disorder, you might struggle to get all the oxygen your cells and tissues need. This, in turn, can lead to significant tissue and organ damage, greatly reducing your quality of life and lifespan. Thus, your medical provider has likely prescribed supplemental oxygen to use at home.
Fortunately, you can remain mobile while receiving supplemental oxygen with a portable oxygen concentrator (POC). These lightweight oxygen concentrators are designed for you to carry along when you’re out and about, so you don’t have to remain tethered to a machine at home. If you’d like to get your mobility back, check out some features to look for when purchasing a POC.
Oxygen Flow Rate
Your healthcare provider will write a prescription that includes the amount of oxygen you need, referred to as the flow rate. The flow rate is in liters per minute, with two liters per minute the most common.
It’s good to choose a portable oxygen concentrator that provides a higher maximum flow rate than what you need. Then, if your needs change, you can adjust the setting instead of purchasing a new machine.
Oxygen Delivery Method
You also need to look at your prescription to determine the oxygen delivery method you require. If your medical condition has reduced your breathing power, your provider will likely prescribe a continuous flow portable oxygen concentrator. Then, it will continue to deliver the oxygen your body needs, even if you struggle to inhale.
However, if you can breathe independently but need supplemental oxygen, your doctor will likely prescribe a pulse flow oxygen POC. Then the machine will deliver oxygen when you inhale.
It’s even possible that your doctor has recommended both. For instance, you might be able to use pulse flow when you’re awake but need continuous flow when sleeping.
You can buy a POC with one oxygen delivery method or select one with both options. Then you can adjust the settings based on your needs at the time.
While all portable oxygen concentrators emit noise, most are extremely quiet. Check the decibel level before purchasing a POC to ensure it won’t be too loud for you to enjoy activities. Portable oxygen concentrators with decibel levels of 37-40 are ideal for most settings. The sound is similar to that of a whisper so that it won’t be bothersome at all.
You want to move around with your portable oxygen concentrator, so consider the weight before buying one. The weight depends on the type of POC you buy. If you need a continuous flow POC, you’ll browse options that range from 17-20 pounds in weight. However, pulse flow concentrators weigh much less, often between 3-10 pounds.
Choose a POC that is lightweight enough for you to move around while still having the amount of oxygen and features you need.
It’s also critical to think about how you’ll get around with the POC. If you need a heavier model, consider looking for a portable oxygen concentrator on a wheeled cart. However, you also need to make sure it’s still small enough for you or a caregiver to lift when needed. For instance, you don’t want to struggle to move the POC into the car when going on a trip.
If you are looking for a lightweight POC, you can find one small enough to put in a bag and carry with you. Then your POC will be by your side, but it won’t be obtrusive.
Some portable oxygen concentrators can be charged in the car so that you can remain powered up on the go. Still, you won’t always be close to a charger. Also, you won’t be able to charge the POC on a plane, so it’s important to choose one with enough battery life for you to engage in activities. Keep in mind that you can also purchase replacement batteries to bring with you. Then you can replace the battery instead of finding a charger.
Do you intend to fly with your POC? If so, you also need to make sure the FAA has approved it for air travel. Otherwise, you might be denied a seat on the plane when you show up to check in for your flight.
Keep These Features in Mind When Shopping for a POC
Because there are so many features, you might feel nervous about shopping for a portable oxygen concentrator. However, you won’t have any trouble finding what you need when you keep these tips in mind. First, pick out some POCs, and then go down the list to determine if they have the features you need. You’ll be able to whittle down the list until you find the perfect portable oxygen concentrator for your needs.