How Does a Portable Oxygen Concentrator Work?

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A portable oxygen concentrator is a medical grade device that assists patients with breathing. People who struggle with lower than normal oxygen levels in their blood will typically need to compensate by using such a POC (Portable Oxygen Concentrator). These devices need to be plugged into the electrical outlet, but there are also POCs available which operate based on a battery. Some POCs are also available with a special adapter so that they can be used while traveling for example.

POC- How does it purify the air?

The main unit will draw in air, then purify it with the help of a special filer and next distribute the air to the patient. The air in the environment is typically consisting of 80% Nitrogen and 20% Oxygen. However, after this air will go through the machine and becomes filtered, the result is very high concentration oxygen (90% to even 95% oxygen and only 5% to 10% Nitrogen). Patients with more severe breathing related disorders and very low oxygen levels require a high dose of oxygen, and this is how a Portable Oxygen Concentrator can deliver such enriched oxygen.

  • The POC draws in air from the surroundings (the room, the main environment)
  • Oxygen will be compressed
  • Nitrogen will be extracted from the air
  • Makes typical adjustments to how air will be delivered to the patient
  • The patient receives highly purified air

Portable Oxygen Concentrators Main Settings

POCs have two different settings regarding how the patients can receive/intake the purified oxygen. These are the Pulse Dose and the Continuous Flow. Pulse Dose is a mode generally used by patients during the daytime, and a Pulse Dose POC is usually more compact with a sleek design and they have a longer battery life. In pulse dose mode oxygen is delivered through “shots” or impulses of oxygen, while in Continuous Mode oxygen is delivered as a constant flow of air via the tubing.
Patients who require the use of a POC while sleeping will typically need to use the device in Continuous Flow Mode. There are both portable and home oxygen concentrators available, with the home-based ones being bulkier and less mobile, while the portable ones can easily accompany patients even while traveling on a plane.

Oxygen Concentrator Main Benefits

Thanks to the availability of portable oxygen concentrators, patients nowadays can lead an active lifestyle while getting required therapy. There are no more oxygen tanks needed, and patients can finally maintain their freedom of movement and independence while receiving the required amount of oxygen at all times- whether at home or while traveling.

Increases Survival Rates

POCs are proven to increase survival rates in the case of some patients (especially if they receive oxygen therapy for ~14 hours per day). The modern portable oxygen concentrators allow patients to get supplemental oxygen whenever and wherever needed- at home, at the hospital, while traveling, while camping or performing activities outdoors.

Better mental alertness

Patients who struggle with “foggy” feelings, most probably do not get enough oxygen in their blood. Therefore, the entire body might be affected, including the good functioning of the brain itself. Patients with lung-related diseases struggle with a state of confusion, which may be among the first signs of the fact that their system does not get well oxygenated. Proper oxygen therapy helps keeping the brain and all important organs well oxygenated.

Better quality of sleep

While you sleep, your oxygen levels will drop, and patients with COPD will have to put up with a very restless night of sleep because of low oxygen levels. Supplemental oxygen during sleep helps people enjoying a more restful night of sleep.


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Today’s modern concentrators are highly portable. They are sleek, stylish, compact and lightweight. They typically look like a stylish bag and you can take them almost everywhere. These concentrators are quite small and they can even fit behind the seat of the passenger. They come with car adapters so that you can easily charge your battery while on the road. The POCS can be taken even on planes, though you need to check air flight rules and regulations. Check whether your POC is FAA regulated, and inform the airline that you intend to take your therapeutic device with you on board.

Oxygen concentrators do not represent a risk for leaks such as the older oxygen cylinders used to be. These concentrators basically produce their own highly concentrated oxygen, and you do not need to refill tanks or buy new ones. Oxygen tanks are today considered old-fashioned but also cumbersome and they restrict patients to in-home use only. With a POC you can enjoy the freedom of movement that you want and not worry anymore about running out of oxygen when you least expect it.