Oxygen Therapy: How to Use a Portable Oxygen Concentrator

These devices help you get the oxygen you need—no refills necessary.

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Oxygen therapy is a type of medical treatment. It uses a device to deliver supplemental oxygen through your nose or mouth, to your lungs, and eventually to the rest of your body. If you have a chronic lung disease, oxygen therapy can help you feel better and be more active. 

One type of oxygen device is a portable oxygen concentrator (POC). Instead of just carrying oxygen like classic oxygen tanks, POCs extract the oxygen from the air around you. (Learn more about oxygen in metal tanks here.)

The Benefits of Portable Oxygen Concentrators

POCs may not be right for everyone, but they do have a few benefits. POCs are often more compact than oxygen in metal tanks, which can be helpful when you need oxygen away from home. 

Furthermore, you don’t need to refill your POC with oxygen. POCs extract oxygen from the air and turn it into condensed oxygen for you to breathe. This may be more convenient than a classic oxygen tank, which needs to be refilled regularly.

While you don’t have to refill a POC, you do have to recharge its batteries. Your battery life will depend on your flow rate and how fast you’re breathing. Bring an extra battery if you’ll be away from home for a while. 

Some POCs deliver oxygen in bursts when you inhale (known as a conserving device) and others offer a continuous flow. Your doctor may suggest one or the other, depending on your body’s needs. A POC with a conserver may be more comfortable since it doesn’t force continuous oxygen, even when you’re not inhaling.

How to Use Your Portable Oxygen Concentrator

  1. Attach the nasal tube.
  2. Turn on the device.
  3. Check to make sure you have enough battery life.
  4. Set the flow prescribed by your doctor.

You’re all set! Oxygen is now flowing. 

Clean your nasal tube weekly with mild dish soap, but avoid getting water in the tubes. If it gets damaged, you can get a new one from your oxygen supplier. 

Now that your POC is working and oxygen is flowing, you can now grab your keys, phone, and wallet and get going.