When your doctor prescribes oxygen therapy, either short or long term, you need to find an oxygen concentrator. Learn how to find the right one here.
Finding out you need supplemental oxygen on a temporary or permanent basis is life changing. Many people are excited to finally get the aid they need, but they may also worry about this new aid. Choosing an oxygen concentrator is an important decision, and since many concentrators are expensive, you want to know how to buy the right one the first time. If you follow the points below, the concentrator hunt should be easier for you.
As we mentioned above, many oxygen concentrators are expensive. People tend to favor portable oxygen concentrators, since they allow for better mobility. Unfortunately, many new portable oxygen concentrators can cost around $3,000. You can find cheaper concentrators online or if you’re willing to buy a used concentrator instead of a new one.
Another way to avoid that high price tag is by renting an oxygen concentrator. Renting is a good alternative to buying if you know you’ll only need the concentrator temporarily. For example, some people temporarily need oxygen therapy after a sickness such as pneumonia. Once their lungs heal from the pneumonia, they no longer need supplemental oxygen and can return the rental concentrator. However, if you know you’ll need your concentrator for a long time, buying one is better.
Most oxygen concentrators have two power supply options: wall hookups or batteries. If you’re looking at stationary or home oxygen concentrators, which are often bigger and provide stronger oxygen, they tend to use wall hookups. Despite needing to stay plugged into an outlet, this power supply option still provides the user plenty of freedom. You can buy longer tubing to connect to stationary or home oxygen concentrators, so you can still freely move around. Most of these oxygen concentrators also come with wheels on the bottom, so you can transport them and hook them up to different wall outlets for better mobility.
On the other hand, portable oxygen concentrators typically use batteries as their power supply. Sometimes, these batteries are rechargeable, and sometimes, they aren’t. The types of batteries in a portable oxygen concentrator will depend on the manufacturer. Regardless of what types of batteries you’ll need, these portable concentrators allow the user great freedom. You can use them outside of your home, as long as you bring backup batteries.
No matter what power supply your oxygen concentrator uses, it should provide the oxygen concentration you need. The concentrator takes in the air around you, which is mostly nitrogen with some oxygen, and filters the nitrogen out to give you more concentrated oxygen. Most of the time, that oxygen concentration is between 87 and 99 percent. Larger, higher-powered concentrators often provide the higher percentages, while smaller, lower-powered concentrators provide the lower percentages. However, smaller, lower-powdered concentrators should still provide at least 87 percent concentrated oxygen.
Part of the reason oxygen concentration matters so much is that the concentration level can affect the flow rate. Your doctor probably prescribed your ideal flow rate when they prescribed your oxygen therapy. There are two flow rate options: low flow and high flow.
Low-flow oxygen generally measures between 2 and 4 liters per minute, although your low-flow rate prescription may be lower than that average. You’ll need to choose an oxygen concentrator and accessories that can accommodate your flow-rate prescription. For instance, if you choose a concentrator meant for high-flow oxygen, then you may get too much oxygen and develop oxygen toxicity. Make sure to order low-flow tubing and nasal cannulas, so all the equipment can work together to properly deliver your prescribed flow rate.
High-flow oxygen generally measures between 4 and 60 liters per minute. Not all oxygen concentrators and accessories are built for these higher flow rates, which means you must choose your oxygen concentrator wisely. Larger concentrators can most easily accommodate these high flow rates, but there are some smaller, portable concentrators that can also get the job done. However, if you choose a concentrator that’s only built for low-flow oxygen, then you may not get the oxygen you need and continue to struggle with your health. Match your flow rate prescription to your desired oxygen concentrator and accessories, so you know you’re getting the supplemental oxygen you need.
We mentioned above that most stationary and home oxygen concentrators still have wheels on the bottom for better maneuverability. However, wheels are not the only feature that makes a concentrator portable. Truly portable oxygen concentrators that can accommodate travel should include “portable” in their name to ensure something small and easy to carry.
However, easy to carry for some is not easy to carry for all. Even if an oxygen concentrator has portable in its name, you may still struggle to carry it. Most portable concentrators come with accessories—such as a backpack or wheel cart—to assist you in carrying the equipment. Nevertheless, depending on the weight of the equipment and your physical health, you may still struggle to travel with it. If possible, test the weight of your desired portable concentrator before purchasing it to ensure it is a comfortable weight for you.
Furthermore, it’s important to note that even portable oxygen concentrators can’t go everywhere. Some concentrators cannot survive high altitudes or certain weather conditions. Therefore, if you’re planning a trip somewhere, research the environment and travel options to discern whether you can safely travel there with your desired concentrator. If this is an area you’ll need to routinely visit, choose a concentrator that can survive in that environment.
Some people think that a portable oxygen concentrator must make very little noise in order to travel well. However, all oxygen concentrators make noise. They are machines running on electricity, and while some are quieter than others, they all make some level of noise.
Most oxygen concentrators create around 45 decibels of noise, which is similar to hearing two people have a quiet conversation near you in a room. Smaller concentrators may emit less noise and larger concentrators may emit more. However, no concentrator should emit more than 60 decibels. If possible, listen to your desired concentrator run for a few minutes, so you know how much noise to expect after purchasing it.
Knowing how to choose the right oxygen concentrator for you comes down to many factors, from the price to the noise level. You’ll need to examine each oxygen concentrator based on these qualities to decide which one is best for you. Rice Village Medical Supply provides oxygen machines with various features, so you can find the best option with us. Contact us today about availability!
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