Using Oxygen Concentrators at High Altitudes

The higher you go above sea level, the thinner the air gets and less oxygen is available for you to breathe. Mountain climbers know this, and will take oxygen equipment with them when they are climbing to altitudes near 10,000 feet, which is where the lack of oxygen starts to get dangerous. When we aren't getting enough oxygen, especially when our bodies are being pushed to the limit (like during mountain or rock climbing), we can become very ill.

Fish need a certain amount of oxygen in the water to breathe. In a fish tank, they depend on the air pump to bring in the oxygen, since they are living in a small space and not the open water. If the air pump breaks, the amount of oxygen in the tank depletes quickly, and the fish will become sick and die. When you are climbing higher and higher up a mountain, the level of oxygen around you is decreasing, and you are like the fish losing oxygen. Unless you do something to make up for that lack of this life-giving gas, you could be in trouble.

What is Altitude Sickness?

If you have lived at sea level or in areas that are flat and non-mountainous, you will have a hard time adjusting to much higher altitudes. Altitude Sickness is caused by lack of oxygen in the air and lowered air pressure at higher altitudes. This is even harder for people with certain medical conditions or people who have a lung disease who already have a difficult time breathing. If you make your way up to higher altitudes very slowly, your body will have time to adjust.

If you ascend very quickly, you can get Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). The symptoms of AMS include nausea and vomiting, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, headache, and dizziness. When the condition is severe, you can see a bluish color on the skin (cyanosis), confusion, dizziness and coughing up blood. If someone with these symptoms isn't treated quickly, AMS can result in death from the fluid that has built up in the lungs.

Why You Should Have a Portable Oxygen Concentrator

Oxygen concentrators are much more convenient because they don't require oxygen tanks. If you are traveling and visiting high altitudes, you won't want to have to carry a bunch of oxygen tanks with you and worry about continuously changing them out when they are empty. An oxygen concentrator will also save you money in the long run because you won't have to refill any tanks. They work by filtering pure oxygen from the air around it so that you can breathe it in. You will need a prescription from your doctor before ordering your oxygen concentrator.

A portable oxygen concentrator is lightweight and can be worn in a pack on your back, so it will be perfect for taking with you while you travel at higher altitudes or do some climbing. Portable oxygen concentrators are made to keep working just as well at 13,000 or more, as they do at sea level. For this reason, they are idea for using at higher altitudes and elevations.

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.