Oxygen Tanks

There is a lot to know about going on oxygen and it can be overwhelming.  Doing some research ahead of time will leave you better prepared for what to expect from the oxygen company and to know what questions to asks and what oxygen delivery system will best meet your needs and lifestyle.

Starting On Oxygen
Oxygen and insurance companies tend to take a one size fits all approach to oxygen.  When your doctor prescribes oxygen, they will usually contact a company that takes your insurace.  This company will then in turn call you to schedule a delivery.  They won't call to ask about you, who you are, what your lifestyle is like or even whether you work or not.  They will tell you they want to schedule a delivery and will bring you a home concentrator unit and several tanks.

If you know you need oxygen and have done your homework ahead of time, you can make sure that:
* You are working with an oxygen company that will fit your needs.  Not all companies carry the same brand of equipment.
* They carry portable oxygen concentrators (if this is what you want/need) and carry a brand that will work for you.
* They deliver what you need the first time.


Oxygen Delivery
Equipment
There are several ways of getting oxygen.
  • A home concentrator is a large unit that typically stays in one place.  It uses the surrounding air to create the oxygen it delivers.
  • Tanks come in several sizes.  The smaller ones are easy to carry over the shoulder.  The larger tanks need to be wheeled.  The length of time a tank lasts depends on the pounds per square inch in the tank and the rate at which it is used.
  • The COPD Foundation's Supplemental Oxygen Guide describes a "trans-fill" system that will allow you to fill tanks yourself.  The advantage of this is you are not dependent on the oxygen company for deliveries of filled tanks.
  • Liquid oxygen is also described in the COPD Foundation's Supplemental Oxygen Guide.  This method offers longer use.
  • Portable Oxygen Concentrators (POC) vary in size from about 5lbs upwards of 20lbs.  They can offer more mobility as long as they remain charged.  Battery life also varies greatly from a few hours to over 10 hours.

Pulse vs. Continuous Flow
The oxygen is delivered in one of two ways.  Either a continous flow of oxygen, or a pulse.  The continous flow is just as it sounds - the oxygen is always flowing.  The pulse method typically delivers oxygen when it senses the wearer inhaling.  The oxygen company will typically come out to evaluate whether the patient can use pulse flow.




Flying With Oxygen
Did you know that your blood oxygen levels drop when you fly?  If you have a pulse oximeter check it the next time you fly.  Tanks are not allowed on airplanes.  Only FAA approved portable oxygen concentrators can be used onboard a plane.  Click here for a list of these POCs .

Oxygen Resources
The COPD Foundation has a lot of good information on their website and should answer all of your questions.  There are additional written resources you can download from their site on the left side of the page.  Click here for their website .