Do you need an Oxygen Concentrator?

You might be wondering what constitutes the need for an oxygen concentrator. Why do some people with COPD need oxygen therapy, while others don't? Why do some people opt to use refillable tanks, when they could be using an oxygen concentrator and not have to order oxygen refills? There are many reasons why someone might choose an oxygen concentrator over tanks, and there are personal health needs that they meet.

If you are having increasing trouble breathing or you have a cough that won't go away with a lot of mucus, this is a good time to visit your doctor to see if something serious is going on, like COPD. Unfortunately, many people don't notice that they might have it until it's in an advanced stage.

A doctor might find it necessary to write you a prescription for oxygen therapy if your blood oxygen level is consistently lower than it should be, and if your lung function has gone below a certain point. They will be able to find this out by doing a few different tests. The tests done for COPD are usually a combination of the arterial blood gas test (ABG), a spirometry test, and chest x-rays.

The ABG test will show the gas levels in your blood, to see if they are balanced properly. Not enough oxygen and too much carbon dioxide is bad. The spirometry test will measure your lung function. Your doctor would order a test where you have to blow into a mouthpiece as hard as you can, to see how much air you can force out of your lungs at once. The x-ray or CT scan, of course, so your doctor can get a visual of what's going on in your lungs.

If you are found to have a severe enough case, oxygen therapy might be in order. Your doctor will write a prescription for oxygen therapy, which will tell you which dose you need, and for how many hours each day you will need to use it. The prescription should be followed exactly, because even though oxygen is a gas, it is treated like any other medication.

Your doctor might also help you decide which oxygen concentrator would be right for you, and if refillable tanks might be a more practical solution. If you need a higher dose of oxygen for a lot of hours every day, it might be better to get an oxygen concentrator.

For nighttime use only, a stationary oxygen concentrator costs less. If you do a lot of traveling or moving around outside the home, a portable oxygen concentrator would be better for your lifestyle. What you decide on ultimately comes down to what will cover your oxygen needs, your lifestyle needs, what you can afford and how you can pay for it.

For example, Medicare might not be able to cover an oxygen concentrator, but they will cover oxygen tank refills. If they cover it, you'll still have to pay part of the cost. It all depends on your individual situation.

About Scott Ridl: Scott joined American Medical Sales and Rentals in 2008 as a Web Manager and Content Writer. He is a writer and designer. He is extensively trained on oxygen therapy products from leading manufacturers such as Inogen, Respironics, Chart, Invacare, ResMed and more. Scott works closely with respiratory therapists and oxygen specialists to educate the community about oxygen therapy products, COPD, asthma and lung diseases. He writes weekly columns and is passionate about educating the community on oxygen therapy and respiratory issues.

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