Finding yourself, or a loved one, at a point in life when you need supplemental oxygen can be cause for apprehension.

But, continuing to educate yourself on your condition and treatment options will only leave you feeling empowered.

As part of your supplemental oxygen prescription, your physician may recommend one or several medical device options based on your lifestyle, and a portable oxygen concentrator may be one of them. Because whether it’s your weekly trip to the grocery store or your granddaughter’s upcoming high school graduation, you will eventually be concerned about mobility.

Understanding some of the basics about portable oxygen concentrators will help you to determine whether this is a device that makes sense for you.

What is a portable oxygen concentrator?

Oxygen concentrators draw oxygen from your immediate environment. They do not require refillable oxygen canisters or tanks. This creates an easier time for you, in terms of maintenance and upkeep.

What else could contribute to ease of use, you might ask?

How about a smaller, lighter, mobile version?

That’s where portable oxygen concentrators come into play.  Their portability allows for your mobility.

Most portable oxygen concentrator manufacturers offer backpack or bag options for easy transport. Plus, many portable oxygen concentrators come with both an A/C adapter for use in any household outlet and D/C adapter to plug into any automobile, boat or motor home. Talk about on the go!

What does a portable oxygen concentrator look like?

Shorter than knee-height and box-like, portable oxygen concentrators come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and even colors.

But beyond these slight differences, you will find that many portable oxygen concentrators feature similar components.

Most portable oxygen concentrators will include a settings panel on which you can find:

  1. An on/off switch, which operates the power
  2. A knob that adjusts the flow rate to your prescription
  3. An alarm indicator, which alerts the user to an impending or immediate loss of power

Also on the unit, you will find the replaceable intake filter, which in many cases can be cleaned and reinserted into the machine.

There are usually two additional jacks or fittings on the machine, including:

  1. An oxygen outlet for the nasal cannula
  2. A plug-in power source, though many portable devices also have rechargeable batteries

When choosing a portable oxygen concentrator, it’s important to understand how everything on the settings panel works.  No one wants to play with confusing electronic controls!

How does a portable oxygen concentrator work?

Most devices include helpful manuals and other how-to information for specific set-up and usage. No need to break out your science textbook!

At first you may think it sounds technical, even scary, but a portable oxygen concentrator relies on a time-tested and easy-to-understand process.

Here’s how an oxygen concentrator works:

  1. Device draws in air from around you
  2. Air is compressed inside device
  3. Nitrogen is filtered out of the air
  4. Pure oxygen is inhaled through nasal tube (cannula) or mask

Whether in your living room, at the park or on a plane, portable oxygen concentrators can continuously complete this process.

Do you have questions that haven’t been answered?

It’s important that you get all the information necessary for your comfort and safety during this lifestyle adjustment. Please start by contacting your physician.