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COPD Oxygen Therapy Systems: Container/Storage & Delivery Systems


WebMD Medical Reference from the COPD Foundation

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COPD patients should remain as active as possible. This is important despite the need for oxygen therapy. Advances in technology have created a variety of systems. These systems can help those needing oxygen still have an active and healthy lifestyle. Your goal for choosing a system will be to find one that meets your specific needs for mobility and portability. Is should also be efficient and cost-effective. It is important to discuss your needs and situation with your doctor and home therapy provider. Select your choice for home oxygen as you would select any major home appliance. Ask lots of questions. You may have more choices than you realize. Consider all the choices. Think about what your specific needs are. Then select the system or systems that will be the best fit for you.

Home oxygen therapy equipment has two essential systems:

  • The container or storage system. This holds the oxygen whether it is compressed gas, liquid or from a concentrator.
  • The delivery system. This transports the oxygen from the container into your lungs.
    We discuss a number of the

Types of Oxygen Storage Systems

There are two types of storage systems: stationary and portable. Systems offering more flexibility and portability are now available. As you will see, some of the storage systems also may be used to fill portable systems. This combines both types. We will highlight the most common systems.

Stationary Systems

Stationary systems provide a large source of oxygen. But they restrict movement. The most common and most economical in-home stationary system used is an oxygen concentrator. Concentrators use an electric motor. They work by removing nitrogen from room air to make 94-98 percent oxygen.

A concentrator needs an electrical source. It operates by passing room air through a powder or a membrane to separate oxygen from nitrogen. The oxygen is concentrated and delivered. The nitrogen is regularly released back into the air. Concentrators can be fairly small, weighing anywhere from 22-70 pounds. They can provide a liter flow rate of up to five to six liters per minute. A long supply tubing of about 50 feet in length is needed. This will allow for moving around the house and preventing tangles with furniture. Since electricity is required you will also want to have a back-up oxygen supply in case of a power failure. And your health care provider should let your electric company know about your oxygen needs. (Note: In Southern California, the electric companies require the customer, not the home care provider, notify the power company.)

These units must be placed in an open, ventilated area. They must be kept away from heat and flames. Concentrators need routine maintenance. They need inspections, filter changes and oxygen analysis. Some of the newer models provide an oxygen concentration gauge. This measures the oxygen level delivered by the concentrator. It sounds an alarm if the reading falls below a certain level.

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