Do I need a prescription to buy a portable oxygen concentrator?

Yes, you need a prescription to buy and use a portable oxygen concentrator (POC). Obtaining a prescription ensures you choose a safe and effective FDA-approved unit and ensures you use the right amount of supplemental oxygen.

The FDA considers medical-grade oxygen a drug, meaning that oxygen causes physiological changes within the body. And like all drugs, too much or too little oxygen can create harmful health effects. Your healthcare provider will determine how much supplemental oxygen you require.

Beware of POCs offered online without a prescription. The FDA has not approved any oxygen concentrators available without a prescription; these units may not provide safe or effective oxygen therapy.

Do not change your supplemental oxygen without permission from your healthcare provider, even if you think you need more oxygen. If you feel short of breath, have changes to your breathing, or think you have COVID-19, contact your physician. As mentioned, using too much or too little oxygen can harm your health.

Seek medical attention immediately if you notice a blueish color on your lips, nails, or face, it becomes difficult to breathe, and you feel restless, you have chest pain or tightness, or your heart races.

The FDA provides tips to safely and effectively use your POC:
  • Never use your POC while smoking or near an open flame.
  • Keep your POC in an open area to prevent the unit from overheating.
  • Ensure the vents are not blocked; blocked vents can keep your POC from working correctly.
  • Occasionally check your alarms to ensure you receive the right amount of oxygen.
Do I need a prescription to buy a portable oxygen concentrator?

For more information view our blog post on the Why Do Users Need a Prescription to Buy a Concentrator?

Updated: April 10, 2023
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