Many people take the air they breathe for granted. They go through a day giving zero thought to the constant air they are taking in and circulating in their lungs. However, people with respiratory issues certainly don’t feel that way. There are many conditions that make it incredibly difficult to breathe. In order to compensate for this, many people need to find a more pure form of oxygen than simply air to breathe easily.
In the past, people would have to bring pure forms of oxygen with them. They did this through oxygen tanks. However, these tanks were heavy and limited in how they can work. THey were limited to the amount of oxygen that was stored in the canister. While this worked, improvements were made and now portable oxygen concentrators offer an alternative to oxygen tanks.
How a Portable Oxygen Concentrator Works
The concept of an oxygen tank is pretty simple. You fill it with oxygen, and then you release and breathe it throughout the day. A portable oxygen concentrator is a bit more complex than that. Rather than carry oxygen around, it works to turn the air into purer forms of oxygen than air itself. Air contains about 20% oxygen. The concentrator can get that up between 90% and 95%. This pushes down the normal 80% nitrogen we breathe. The air runs through a heating and cooling process and compresses the oxygen. In turn, that oxygen is fed back out as needed to the person with the concentrator. Unlike tanks, concentrators work with the air around them. This means they need to be battery powered during situations involving movement. When stationary, a person can simply plug it in to power the device and to charge up the battery. It’s a simple process really.
Benefits Over Air Tanks
Air tanks have worked for people for a long time. So what are the actual benefits to switching to a portable oxygen concentrator? Is it really worth choosing one instead of an oxygen tank? Some of the benefits include:
- Variable Release: Unlike the constant release of an oxygen tank, portable oxygen concentrators can have what’s called “pulse” release of oxygen. It’s released each time someone inhales. This can increase battery life and helps to not waste created oxygen. At night, the portable oxygen concentrator can be set to release air as a steady flow to help sleep.
- Less Dangerous: One of the major weaknesses when it comes to oxygen tanks is if they develop a leak. Oxygen rich atmospheres have the potential to start dangerous fires.
- Ease and Portability - Portable oxygen concentrators are lighter and far more easily moved around. They can even go on airplanes with no risk.
- Reduced Long Term Costs - While the initial cost is typically more expensive than an oxygen tank, the continuous oxygen refills can add up. In addition, some people need two tanks to ensure they don’t run out accidentally.
How to Get a Portable Oxygen Concentrator
Typically, as these are important medical devices, portable oxygen concentrators aren’t just available from the local Walmart. The best method of purchase is through the retailer’s themselves or reputable health equipment stores. If you’re looking for stores in your area, check with your doctor’s office. They will likely know exactly where to find one.
Another option is buying online. Inogen is a company that makes the "inogen one g2 portable oxygen concentrator" among others and will sell their products directly. There are also other websites like VitalityMedical which sell more generic items.