What is a Portable Oxygen Concentrator?
A Portable Oxygen Concentrator (POC) is a machine that concentrates and delivers oxygen continuously. Unlike oxygen tanks, a concentrator doesn’t store oxygen – it separates it from the room air. Typically, normal air contains about 20% oxygen and 78% nitrogen, along with small amounts of other gases.
- A concentrator removes nitrogen from room air and provides concentrated oxygen containing approximately 87% to 95% pure oxygen
- Oxygen is delivered via a nasal cannula – small plastic tubing that fits into the nostrils
- Some, though not all, POCs deliver oxygen in two ways: continuously or in pulsed doses
- In pulse mode, a short “pulse” of oxygen is released during inhalation, when needed most
- Pulse mode extends the available time that a POC can deliver oxygen from a single charged battery
- Concentrators are now truly portable, thanks to compact size, reduced weight, and ability to run on a battery
- To qualify for Medicare reimbursement, a POC must deliver purity of 85% or greater
While oxygen concentrators have been available since the 1970s, it is only in the past decade that extremely mobile, easily carried and transported POCs have been available.
Types of Portable Oxygen Concentrators
There are two primary types of POCs –
- Pulse mode only
- Continuous and pulse modes in one unit
Pulse delivery oxygen is not generally accepted by most medical practitioners as a viable option for use during sleep. Instead, it is recommended to use a continuous flow concentrator. If you choose a POC as your ONLY means of supplemental oxygen, a device offering pulse and continuous flow modes becomes the best choice. Pulse delivery portable oxygen concentrators are normally lighter weight, and may have longer battery life. While there are many pulse-delivery-only devices on the market, there are only a few POCs offering both continuous and pulse delivery.
The DeVilbiss iGo Portable Oxygen System DOES provide both continuous and pulse delivery oxygen. The iGo differs from other continuous/pulse delivery portables because of its patented PulseDose® delivery of pulsed oxygen that offers significant advantages –
- When you’re active, your breath rate increases
- Some oxygen delivery devices reduce the bolus (pulsed dose of oxygen) as your breath rate increases
- This reduction can result in a decreased blood oxygen saturation level and a decreased feeling of wellness
- The iGo avoids this issue by ensuring that, via PulseDose - you receive a consistent bolus regardless of your breath rate
Benefits of Portable Oxygen Concentrators
The primary benefit of a POC - you’re now free to go everywhere. In the past if you were tied to tank-based oxygen, your ability to travel – even on short trips to the grocery store for example – was limited and filled with a good many hassles. In addition, you may be required to wait at home for your filled oxygen cylinders to be delivered.
Today, long-term oxygen therapy no longer has to make you feel trapped, it can now be viewed as part of a lifestyle where freedom is possible.
- POCs are now truly portable – easily carried with a handle or transported in a travel case
- Unlike older oxygen concentrators, most of today’s units weigh less than 20 lbs
You’re free to travel everywhere and for extended periods
- On foot, by car, train, bus, ship and airplane – as some POCs are now approved for use on planes by the FAA
- The U.S. Department of Transportation has ruled that every US air carrier must permit the use of approved POCs on all domestic and international flights – foreign airlines must allow their use on flights departing from or returning to US airports
- Many POCs operate on three types of power: AC (wall outlet), DC (vehicle 12V auxiliary power outlet), and rechargeable batteries
Independence from worry
- You don’t have to worry about oxygen deliveries or running out of oxygen with a POC
- No longer do you have to give up a portion of a room for oxygen storage and operation
Pulse mode advantages
- POCs with pulse mode extend the life of a battery charge
- Many users claim these short bursts of oxygen are almost undetectable
- This mode allows more moisture to be maintained in nasal cavities, helping to reduce nasal and throat dryness experienced in continuous mode
Continuous mode capability
- Available on some POCs such as the iGo, continuous flow is advantageous for nighttime use
- Most POCs run quietly, allowing you to sleep and carry on a normal conversation in a vehicle