What is a portable oxygen machine? Essentially it is a medical device that provides oxygen-rich therapy air to people that need it while going about their busy lives. It’s a lighter, portable version of the home oxygen concentrators and is less life-limiting as you don’t need to stay at home in reach of your oxygen concentrator.
Portable Oxygen Machines
Benefits of a portable oxygen machine:
A lightweight, portable oxygen machine lets you get on with your life. You can play golf, go out for coffee with friends, drive, fly (with an FAA-approved model) and generally carry out any of your activities without being limited by your need for oxygen therapy.
A portable oxygen machine has simple controls because they concentrate on the basics – battery status, oxygen flow, and any warning notifications necessary. Plus, there are no trailing wires unless you need to plug it in to recharge the battery. Even then, most models give an external battery recharging system for convenience.
You set your portable oxygen machine to suit your needs – pulse or continuous flow (larger models offer continuous), breathing pattern, and pressure. Your oxygen therapy is at hand and ready to go when you need it.
If you do not have the right amount of oxygen blood saturation levels, you sleep poorly, your thinking is foggy, and you lack energy. A portable oxygen machine helps you maintain optimum blood oxygen saturation levels without confining you to the home.
You get increased energy, sharper thinking, and a great night’s sleep, which means you get to enjoy your day, work or play. Plus, you can go on holiday with less fuss and inconvenience as all travel options are open to you.
Who Needs a portable oxygen machine?
The usual breathing process allows your lungs to take in air, extract oxygen, and expel waste gases. Lungs can become damaged by acute disease for a short time or have damage from a chronic illness or condition. Damaged lungs aren’t efficient at extracting oxygen from the air, and this results in lower than usual oxygen levels in your blood.
Acute diseases that benefit from oxygen therapy include:
· Asthma – during or after the asthma attack to improve oxygen levels.
· Pneumonia – better outcomes with therapy oxygen.
Chronic diseases include:
· Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
· Sleep Apnea.
· Cystic Fibrosis.
All these diseases impact on lung function, and oxygen therapy helps improve the transfer of oxygen into the blood.
Limitations of portable oxygen machines:
portable oxygen machines don’t work for everyone. They are small oxygen concentrators aiming to give increased mobility. This smaller size compared to a home concentrator gives some drawbacks or limitations on their usefulness:
1. Oxygen Production
The home oxygen concentrator can produce 10LPM, but the top production for a portable o2 machine is 5LPM. If you need a high flow rate of oxygen, a portable oxygen machine won’t meet your needs. The technology continues to improve.
The advantage of POCs is also one of their limitations. The battery life and recharging options are essential considerations when relying on portable o2 machines – most people need to have more than one set, and the cost mounts up.
When flying, the airline rules insist that you have enough battery power to cover the flight (and any stopover time) and a margin of 50%. This requirement increases the cost of travel. Most portable o2 machines can plug into vehicles to operate and recharge while driving.
3. Continuous Flow
Some portable oxygen machines (larger, heavier models) offer the option of continuous flow, but most operate on pulse low to reduce energy cost. Pulse flow is not helpful for mouth breathers or those with irregular breathing patterns as pulse flow needs activation by the indrawn breath.
Some medical insurance won’t cover the cost of a portable o2 machine, preferring to give a minimal and more economical solution. Most people prefer to have a home oxygen concentrator for overnight and in-home use with a small, light portable o2 machine for trips away from home.
Some patients can use a portable oxygen machine as their only medical device for medical grade oxygen, but not all. Therefore, you face the additional expense of buying and maintaining two medical devices.
Flying with a portable oxygen machine:
If a portable oxygen generator meets the FAA criteria for safety on an aircraft, then it has the FAA approved sticker. This approval does not mean you can automatically take it on any flight, as you still need to confirm with your airline that they accept your device.
FAA approval means your POC:
· Is approved for sale in the United States.
· Doesn’t interfere with aircraft systems.
· No compressed gas – in problematic amounts.
· No hazardous materials.
· Carries official labeling.
Tips for Getting the Best from Your portable oxygen machine:
A portable oxygen generator frees you up for a better quality of life, but you want to make sure you are getting the maximum benefit from your mobile medical device.
1. Safety First: Avoid Fire
A portable oxygen generator is for personal use, and they comply with loads of regulations, but you do need to apply some commonsense to how and where you use them.
Oxygen feeds a flame so:
· Don’t smoke or allow anyone else to smoke near you while using your POC.
· Switch to water-based rather than petroleum-based skin products.
· Avoid naked flames and hot electrical elements.
· Don’t leave your machine running when not in use.
Read through your instruction manual and take note of any safety advice concerning avoiding fire risk. Oxygen concentrators produce oxygen on demand and are much safer than tanks, but you still need to handle oxygen with care.
2. Exercise More
A lightweight, portable oxygen machine weighing less than 5lbs is ideal for allowing you to take up some exercise and increase your fitness and energy levels.
If you are out of the exercise habit, have a chat with your physician about getting back in shape with a gentle to moderate program. Improving your upper body strength and getting some cardiovascular exercise decreases your blood pressure and improves your oxygen take-up. Adding some extra movement into your day gradually increases your energy and happiness levels.
Traveling around is less stressful if you plan your journey – know where you are going and how long it is going to take. That way, you know you have plenty of battery capacity and can plan in recharging opportunities.
Don’t put things on top of your portable oxygen generator and make sure it is securely positioned on the floor or in the passenger seat.
It makes sense to preserve battery power by plugging your POC into your vehicle, even on short trips to and from the stores. If you make it a habit, you prolong your battery life.
You can travel with a POC on public transport but check with the transport provider if they need advance notification.
4. Cleaning and Maintenance
A routine and a checklist mean you keep your portable oxygen machine operating at optimum levels. If you know that you have spare filters and accessories and a regular cleaning cycle, you have peace of mind knowing that your oxygen supply is secure.
5. Emergency Planning
Although an emergency has an unexpected element, you can have emergency back up plans. You can let your utility company know that you use an oxygen concentrator, so you are a priority for reconnection in the event of a power cut.
An emergency contact card kept with your portable oxygen machine means that you can contact your supplier and physician quickly if necessary. Although you will have this information on your mobile phone, an emergency card means a third party can call for assistance.
Frequently Asked Questions:
The most frequently asked questions in connection with portable oxygen machines are:
1. What is a portable oxygen machine?
A POC is a small medical device for turning room air into medical grade oxygen. It is neat and compact and easy to transport.
2. How does a portable oxygen machine work?
Air contains mainly nitrogen and about 21% oxygen. The room air is filtered and pushed through a molecular sieve to remove the nitrogen and produce clean medical grade oxygen.
3. How much does a portable oxygen machine cost?
You can expect to pay between $1,000 and $3,000 for a portable oxygen machine, but there are some budget models available like the Boswell BOS610 for around $500.
4. Is a POC genuinely portable?
A heavy-duty portable oxygen machine needs a wheeled carry case, but there are some light models under 4lb. It is a balance between your oxygen needs and the size and weight of the machine that can meet them. POC’s aim to be as easy to carry for the user as possible and come with specially designed cases for the device and the accessories.
5. Do you need a prescription to buy a POC?
Currently, you do need a prescription for oxygen therapy because to get the most benefit, you need to know how much oxygen you need and when. Your doctor will test your blood oxygen levels when resting, sleeping, and exercising, if necessary. Your physician will specify what you need and discuss if additional oxygen will help you manage your condition. Some oxygen therapy is short-term, and some become part of your daily life. It depends on your needs.