Customer Question: Why Do I Need a Prescription to Buy an Oxygen Concentrator?

To purchase an oxygen concentrator from our store, you do need a prescription from your doctor, stating specifically what you need. Supplemental oxygen is classified as a prescription medication in the United States, since using oxygen that you don't need, or in too high of a dose, or too low of a dose, can be detrimental to your health and even cause damage to lung tissue. There are several important factors that go into a prescription for oxygen use.

Which oxygen concentrator you purchase is also largely determined by your prescription, and your prescription and needs are individual to you. That's why you might have completely different needs from your friend who also uses supplemental oxygen from an oxygen concentrator, even if you both have COPD.

Some patients who require oxygen therapy only need it when they are exercising, while others only need it while they are sleeping, and others need it for a few hours out of the day no matter what they are doing. Some patients need continuous flow oxygen, while others only need pulse doses. Exactly which type of dosage you need, how many hours out of the day you need it, and at which setting is determined by your doctor.

Your physician will administer tests to find out what you need. He or she will have blood drawn for an ABG test (arterial blood gas) to check your blood gases, as well as use a pulse oximeter (the thing they put on the end of your finger) to monitor your blood oxygen level. He or she will also check to see if your blood oxygen levels change drastically during exercise or while you are sleeping. From these tests, your doctor will write a prescription for exactly what you need.

Your doctor will also help you choose the oxygen concentrator that will best suit your needs, according to your prescribed oxygen needs. For example, if you need a continuous flow of 3 LPM, that only narrows your choices down a little.

Next, you will need to look at how often you will need to use your 3 LPM. Eight hours per day, during the day time? A few hours during the morning before you leave the house? While you exercise? Only during the night? These other prescribed factors will help you narrow your search down even more.

If you need it during the day while you are out and about, you will need one of the portable models that offer 3 LPM of continuous flow, such as the SeQual Eclipse 5 or the Devilbiss iGo. If you only need it at night while you're sleeping, your doctor might write a prescription for you to get a stationary oxygen concentrator, such as the AirSep Visionaire 3.

You must also never change the setting on your oxygen concentrator from the prescribed setting, or use it more than prescribed. This can be extremely dangerous, because you won't be getting the oxygen you need, or you could get too much and risk damage to your health.

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