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Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

COPD and Portable Oxygen Therapy

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Many people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) need extra oxygen. Some are anxious about traveling with oxygen tanks, though, so they stay home instead of enjoying time away.

While many people do take tanks of compressed oxygen when traveling, there’s another choice. Portable oxygen concentrators (POCs) take air from the room and convert it into concentrated oxygen. Most are lightweight, compact, and unlike traditional tanks, do not need refilling.

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POCs run on batteries. Some of these batteries can last more than 12 hours. POCs also have AC/DC adapters, so you can plug them into your car or any outlet.

Travel Tips

First, talk with your doctor. Ask if it’s safe for you to travel. Let the doctor know about your travel destination -- especially if you are going to higher altitudes or other countries.

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:

  • Never store tanks in your car’s trunk or in direct sunlight. Keep them away from intense heat.
  • Make sure your tanks have more than enough oxygen for the whole trip and to get you back home. Or plan ahead to get refills. Your supplier can help you with this.
  • Avoid smokers.
  • Make sure your equipment works well before heading out.
  • If traveling by airline, train, bus, or cruise ship, ask about their policies on portable oxygen beforehand.

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