Oxygen Therapy FAQs
Whether you’re currently considering oxygen therapy for you or a loved one or you’re already on it, it’s not uncommon for questions to arise. Read below to learn the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions regarding oxygen therapy, oxygen concentrators, and portable oxygen concentrator machines. If you still have questions, be sure to get in touch with us by phone at 1-800-946-1201 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who Needs Oxygen Therapy?
Oxygen therapy is made for anyone who is unable to get enough oxygen into their lungs or their lungs have an impaired ability to process oxygen and transfer it to the bloodstream. Oxygen is a gas that’s vital for human life and having an adequate amount in the body keeps you healthy. Some of the most common conditions that result in oxygen deficiency include:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Respiratory system trauma
You should always speak with a doctor before beginning oxygen therapy. Your doctor will test for any underlying conditions and keep track of your arterial blood gas level (ABG) to determine if oxygen therapy will benefit you. A normal blood oxygen saturation is typically between 75 and 100 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) whereas anything below 60 mmHg usually indicates a need for supplemental oxygen.
Do I Need a Prescription for Medical Oxygen?
Yes. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) sets the laws and regulations regarding medical oxygen devices like oxygen tanks, oxygen concentrators, and portable oxygen concentrators. Since they’re labeled as a drug, you’ll need to get a prescription from your doctor in order to purchase or rent one.
It’s important to note, however, there are certain oxygen devices on the market that do not require a prescription. These are called ‘recreational oxygen devices’ or “canned” oxygen, and differs from medical oxygen in that it can’t be used to treat conditions like COPD, cystic fibrosis, or asthma. Many companies claim they can be used to boost energy, increase alertness, and improve sports performance but these claims haven’t been backed up with a significant amount of research.
Is Oxygen Therapy Safe?
Yes. When you follow your doctor’s instructions and use your oxygen therapy device as prescribed, it is very safe to use. However, as with any device, there are some precautions you should take to avoid any complications. Take into consideration the following whenever you use your oxygen tank or oxygen concentrator.
- Avoid smoking or having an open flame around your device
- Keep your oxygen concentrator away from water
- Do not block the inlets or outlets of your device
For more specific safety precautions, please consult the manual of the device you have purchased.
Can You Take an Oxygen Concentrator on an Airplane?
Yes. Most portable oxygen concentrators are approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for in-flight use. Modern oxygen concentrators are light weight and have a small enough form factor to fit under a seat or on your lap safely and comfortably. However, before leaving for a trip you should contact your airline to see if they have any rules regarding POCs.
Are Oxygen Concentrators Noisy?
No. While all concentrators do make a noise, they aren’t disruptive and you’ll be able to go about your daily life without being distracted. Portable oxygen concentrators range in volume from 38 decibels to 44 decibels while home concentrators can be up to 55 decibels. This can vary based on flow setting you have it set to and the specific model that you purchase, so be sure to speak with one of our device specialists if this is a concern for you.
Are There Side Effects to Using Medical Oxygen?
There are some potential minor negative side effects of using an oxygen concentrator like nasal dryness, oxygen toxicity, and breathing suppression. Nasal dryness happens when there is a lack of moisture in the nasal passages and can be fixed by attaching a humidifier to your device. Oxygen toxicity and breathing suppression are very rare side-effects, but if you experience a cough, irritation of the airways, or shortness of breath, get in touch with your doctor immediately.
What is the Difference Between Pulse Flow and Continuous Flow?
Oxygen concentrators are divided into two categories: pulse flow and continuous flow. A continuous flow oxygen concentrator constantly emits oxygen while a pulse flow concentrator only emits oxygen when you inhale. There are pros and cons to each type of device so you should consult with your doctor and a device specialist to understand what all your options are.
Are Portable Oxygen Concentrators Covered by Medicare?
Unfortunately, getting Medicare to cover any type of oxygen therapy can be a pain. While they do provide Medicare providers with a certain amount, it’s over a 5-year rental contract that typically isn’t enough to pay for a portable oxygen concentrator. However, every Medicare provider is different and every insurance company is different, so be sure to ask them for more information.
The majority of people who own portable oxygen concentrators paid for them out-of-pocket. Fortunately, here at LPT Medical, we always have great deals going on and flexible financing options to help you get whichever device you desire.