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Everyday life changes when you need supplemental oxygen on a regular basis. As such, portable oxygen concentrators are life-saving and life-changing little machines. People with emphysema or COPD need oxygen, says Kimberly Langdon, M.D., Ohio-based physician, and VP of product development and research at Physician Integrative Laboratories. COPD is generally from tobacco and cigarettes. Any pulmonary disease such as pleural effusions from cancer may need to be on oxygen. Pulmonary hypertension is another reason.
For these conditions and anyone who requires medical oxygen, portable oxygen concentrators are the answer. They give you the freedom and independence to do as you please, all while breathing in the oxygen-rich air you need.
For the unfamiliar, oxygen concentrators work by pulling air in through a filter and compressing it into one of two zeolite towers. It's a way to extract oxygen from the air and remove the nitrogen so that the concentration of oxygen is higher than ambient air which is 21%, says Dr. Langdon. These are safer than traditional pressurized oxygen tanks and more economical and convenienteasier to transport because they arent as bulky or heavy.
Dr. Langdon explains that normally, the air around you is composed of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 1% other gases. However, after passing through an oxygen concentrator, which separates and filters out the nitrogen, what comes out is oxygen at a much higher concentration (up to 95%).
Whats more, units can hook into a DC jack and be used in the car for easy breathing on road trips and the best even offer hours of oxygen concentrating power on one battery charge. That portability is key, according to doctors. Weight of the machine, length of time it can go without needing to be recharged, are all important factors to consider according to Dr. Langdon.
The G3 is one of the quietest portable oxygen concentrators available, but this efficient device has a lot more going for it. It boasts a four-hour battery life and an operational altitude of up to 10,000 feet, and the carrying case looks more like an outdoorsy lunch bag than a medical device.
The G3 also always puts your health first with audible alerts in case of a power outage, no breath detected alarms, and oxygen purity checks. Rest assured, if your oxygen level ever falls below required purity levels, you will know immediately.
The Respironics SimplyGo has a continuous flow up to 54 minutes and comes with two rechargeable batteries, so you can always have a charge going while your POC is in use. At 10 lbs and with a modern design of less than 12 inches wide and tall, it is one of the smallest POCs with continuous flow. Its approved for use up to 10,000 feet, where its able to keep up a pulse dose setting of one to six and continuous flow setting between 0.5 and two.
The AirSep Freestyle 3 weighs only five pounds and is very small, as in mix-it-up-with-your-smartphone small. AirSep is leading the category in compact oxygen concentrators with this model. This specific model is designed for the active user with quiet, efficient pulse flow that goes up to a setting of three. It has a Max Pulse Setting of three and has a max oxygen of 332 per minute. The Freestyle can be worn over your shoulder with a carrying bag or add on the optional harness to convert into a backpack, which frees you to do your favorite activity.
If energy efficiency is priority number one, you can do no wrong with the SeQual Eclipse 5 mobile unit. Its hands down one of the most energy-efficient models with long-lasting batteries available, but its also on the heavier side. It weighs 18 pounds and comes with a cart that easily wheels it around. You can also sling it over both shoulders and carry it as a backpack.
The battery lasts up to five hours and has a pulse dose of one to six LPM for precise and predictable 90% oxygen with each inhale. SeQual's AutoSAT technology really sets it apart. It helps maintain the same amount of oxygen consistently, even as breath rate varies.
The ability to use a portable oxygen concentrator really depends on how much oxygen do you need, what flow do you need it at, and how long do you want to use it before you have to go back to your stationary device or replace the battery. Dr. Albert Rizzo, the chief medical officer with the American Lung Association
For pulse-flow POC, it is impossible to beat this Precision Medical model in price, ease of use, and performance. It's half the price of many competitors and only has one filter, which makes cleaning a breeze. The EasyPulse PM4150 will keep humming along on one battery over three hours at setting two and it comes with a car adapter for on-the-go charging needs. If thats not quite enough, extra batteries are available as is a sling for easy transportation.
This FAA-approved device is one of the lightest on the market, weighing in at a mere two pounds. Its so light and petite, youd barely notice carrying it on your shoulder or pocket. The AirSep has microbatteries that last up to three hours and an additional supplemental battery pack belt for an additional three and a half hours of battery life. It has a pulse dose rate of two LPM, so what you gain in featherweight class, you will notice a decrease in airflow ranges.
This model shines all around just like its namesake precious metal. Its incredibly quiet in both continuous and pulse dose mode and emits one of the highest oxygen purity levels and weighs under five pounds. It may be compact, but it is rugged, durable, and water resistant, and it can withstand extreme temperatures. It has a pulse dose range of one to five LPM.
The Oxlife Independence is excellent for traveling due to its operational altitude of 13,123 feet. Unlike other models that top out at 8,000 or 10,000, this portable oxygen concentrator can keep up even up higher and it comes with wheels and a cart handle for easier transportation. The pulse dose setting ranges from one tosix LPM. It also has a continuous setting of one to three LPM for precision oxygen. The battery keeps both pulse dose mode chugging for up to four hours and up to 1.5 hours operating in the continuous mode.
Patients need to talk to their doctors about if they can handle a portable concentrator to see if their breathing technique and liter flow are adequate from that concentrator to meet their needs. The last thing you want to do is go out and buy a concentrator that doesnt meet the needs of the patient. Dr. Albert Rizzo, the chief medical officer with the American Lung Association
The most important factor to consider when purchasing a portable oxygen concentrator is the oxygen output. In order to meet your needs, the machine needs to provide the proper levels of oxygen to you. No patient or diagnosis is created equal, which is why its necessary to communicate with your doctor about what settings would be best suited for you.
Inogen One G3 (view at Inogen) comes in as best overall because its lightweight, powerful, and reliable. An alternative, and still top choice, is the Oxlife Independence (view at o2-concepts) due to its petite size, multi-system delivery modes, and excellent performance at altitudes, far surpassing competitors.
These devices are meant to be used wherever you want to go, so size and weight are major considerations as is your chosen transportation method. Generally, oxygen concentrators with more power and higher output are heavier and larger. That doesnt have to be a deterrent for an on-the-go lifestyle, though. Many also feature a convenient rolling cart or strap system for transporting easily.
There are two main types of units, a pulse flow, and continuous flow, based on the delivery of oxygenated air. The pulse flow machine delivers air to the patient as short puffs timed to each inhalation. As a result, no oxygen is wasted. The pulse flow or demand flow delivers oxygen only when the patient is inhaling. This can help with power consumption. Nighttime use is more commonly pulse-flow. Some operate continuous flow with the added feature of pulse-flow as needed, says Dr. Langdon.
In contrast, the continuous flow unit produces a continuous stream of oxygen. One to five liters per minute of continuous oxygen flow is a common way to deliver oxygen continuously whether the patient is inhaling or not, says Dr. Langdon. These devices tend to have larger compressors, and there is likely some oxygen waste.
You can expect portable oxygen concentrators to run on a single battery charge for up to four or five hours. The smaller, lighter units generally have shorter battery charge-spans, though many of the devices come with extra batteries that can double that off-the-grid lifespan and charging options in cars.
By far the number one consideration to take into account when shopping for an oxygen concentrator is how much oxygen the machine can put out. Unlike oxygen tanks, which can deliver oxygen in virtually any setting, Scott Marlow, a respiratory therapist with the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, explains that portable concentrators deliver a certain quantity of oxygen with each breath. Most patients require about 400ml/min depending on their diagnosis. Its important to speak to a doctor about your specific requirements and what machines will best keep your oxygen saturation levels stable.
[A Portable Oxygen Concentrator] is a way to extract oxygen from the air and remove the nitrogen so that the concentration of oxygen is higher than ambient air which is 21% percent. These are safer than traditional pressurized oxygen tanks and more economical and convenienteasier to transport because they arent as bulky or heavy.Kimberly Langdon, M.D., Ohio-based physician, and VP product development and research at Physician Integrative Laboratories
Oxygen concentrators are sometimes covered on medicare, but it depends on the patient's coverage. What happened with medicare is the amount that they cover with any oxygen device has become a set amount, Dr. Rizzo says. Home care companies can provide people oxygen for less with a portable gas tank versus liquid oxygen, Dr. Rizzo adds, so this influences whether the device will be covered or not. If you qualify for supplemental oxygen at night thats almost always covered by insurance companies, including Medicare, Dr. Rizzo says. But accessing a portable oxygen concentrator, depending on coverage, can be more difficult for patients who require the device.
Most oxygen concentrators are created with durability in mind, as theyre used to help the person travel and accomplish their daily tasks. Many of these devices come with a warranty, which typically lasts for two years. A new device should likely last someone from five to seven years depending on the concentrator and how its used daily. Its like buying any household appliance, Dr. Rizzo says. You want to check the warranty and trust who youre buying or renting it from.
As a seasoned health writer, Jennifer Nied understands how vital quality product recommendations are for treating symptoms safely and effectively at home. For over 10 years, she has reviewed products, interviewed experts, scrutinized ingredients, and pored over research studies and claims, to help readers like you understand what works for your specific conditions. Every product in this piece was selected taking into account recommendations from doctors, published research, and real customer reviews.
As a seasoned health writer,Danielle Zoellnerknows the importance of finding just the right product to fit your medical needs. Throughout her career, Danielle has interviewed a variety of experts in the medical and health fields while reviewing dozens of products. Her experience and knowledge in the fieldwork together help readers like yourself find the best products for your daily life.