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COPD and Portable Oxygen Therapy

Many people with COPD need supplemental oxygen therapy. Unfortunately, some people who use portable oxygen are wary of traveling with oxygen. So they opt to stay at home instead of going out to see friends, shop, or enjoy a vacation.

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But oxygen therapy can actually enhance your physical ability to go places and do things that the advance stage of COPD was keeping you from doing. Once you’ve learned what’s involved, you may find that oxygen gives you more freedom to go places and do things you want to do.

Switch to Portable Oxygen Therapy

If you don’t use one already, you’ll need to switch to a portable oxygen delivery system for trips away from home. Portable oxygen concentrators (POCs), hold compressed oxygen in small tanks. Most POC tanks come with carrying cases and travel carts. These are excellent for using in airports or simply going sightseeing.

POCs run on batteries. Some batteries can last up to five hours. POCs also have AC/DC adapters so they can be plugged in when you are in a car or in a location with electrical outlets. The portable oxygen delivery system will allow you to have more freedom to live an active life.

Ask your oxygen supplier about attaching a demand valve to your portable oxygen delivery device. The demand valve can lengthen the time you can use the portable oxygen before you need to get a refill.

Always keep the phone number of your oxygen supplier close by. You never know when you might have problems with your portable oxygen -- whether you’re in town or out of town. Here are more tips on traveling with oxygen:

Land Travel With Portable Oxygen

First, talk with your doctor. Ask if it’s safe for you to travel with COPD. Let your doctor know about your travel destination. This is particularly important if you are traveling to higher altitudes or traveling outside the country.

If you’re going by car or motor home, you’ll have few restrictions in traveling with oxygen. You can take portable oxygen with you in the vehicle if it’s stored safely. Keep your oxygen in the vehicle during travel but away from heat. Partially roll down a window as oxygen containers give off gasses. These gasses can build up in small spaces and be hazardous.

Never store the portable oxygen concentrator in the trunk or other areas that get hot. And make sure no one in the vehicle smokes.

Depending on how far you’re traveling on land, plan ahead to get refills of oxygen. Your oxygen supplier can help you arrange this before you leave.

If you’re taking a bus, call the bus line before the trip. Ask if you can travel with portable oxygen on the bus. Again, make sure no smoking is allowed on the bus you select.

Traveling with oxygen by train should be fine with portable oxygen. Again, call the railway line ahead of time to check on bringing portable oxygen on board. On the train, stay away from smokers (use the “no smoking” cars only). Also, allow for enough oxygen for the trip plus extra for traveling to and from your destinations.

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