Supplemental Oxygen

Supplemental Oxygen

Why is supplemental oxygen prescribed?
  • People with COPD may have low levels of oxygen and need extra or supplemental oxygen to raise their oxygen to a healthier level.
  • Supplemental oxygen helps to protect the body and allows patients to function better and stay active.
Importance of Supplemental Oxygen
With use of supplemental oxygen, you can improve: 
  • Energy and breathing 
  • Sleep and mood 
  • Mental alertness 
  • Body’s ability to carry out normal functions 
Oxygen therapy can decrease: 
  • Morning headaches 
  • Sleepiness 
  • Irritability Breathlessness 
Oxygen therapy can also help you lead a more active lifestyle by allowing you the freedom to move about.

Oxygen Therapy Choices:
A common fear among many oxygen users is running out of oxygen. In the last few years, several medical device manufactures have developed new products that allow users to be away from home much longer than previously possible without the fear of running out of oxygen.

Known as portable oxygen concentrators, these newer devices work the same as a stationary concentrator but weigh only 5 to 20 pounds, are battery operated, can be plugged into an AC outlet, and will also operate via an automobile’s battery or other DC power source.  Most of these devices can be used in a car, boat or plane and they never have to be filled.

Stationary oxygen concentrators 
  • Weigh 30 to 60 pounds 
  • Produce oxygen by concentrating oxygen from room air  
  • Do not require filling  
  • Plug into electrical outlet

Compressed gas 
When a person with COPD wants to go shopping, visit a friend, or take a walk, he or she needs an oxygen device that is portable and lighter than a stationary concentrator.  Historically, the most common portable oxygen choice was compressed gas tanks.  The tanks come in different sizes and hold from 113 to 680 gaseous liters of oxygen.  The only downside to compressed tanks is that they run out of oxygen and need to be refilled. 

To allow the tank of oxygen to last longer, an oxygen conserving device (OCD) may be added to the tank by your provider. An OCD releases a flow of oxygen only during inhalation. This intermittent oxygen flow conserves oxygen and extends the time an oxygen cylinder will last. The use of an OCD must be carefully evaluated to meet individual user needs.

  • Stored in gas cylinders 
  • Use inside or outside of the home 
  • Portable Refilled by home medical equipment companies or by user 
  • Available in large or small tanks 
  • Use an oxygen conserving device (OCD)
Equipment choice is generally based on the following:
  • Prescription (example 2 LPM) 
  • Physical activity level 
  • Amount of travel 
  • Type of insurance 
Oxygen Safety Tips
  • NO SMOKING while using oxygen 
  • Avoid open flame 
  • Treat oxygen as if it were a drug. 
  • Do not change your prescription without talking to your doctor. 
  • Do not try to service your oxygen equipment. 
  • If you encounter a problem contact your homecare provider.

Transporting Oxygen Safely in a Car
When traveling with an oxygen system in an automobile, remember:

  1. No smoking or open flames in the car. 
  2. Secure tanks so that they cannot be easily moved. If a tank valve is bumped, the valve can be inadvertently opened releasing a large amount of oxygen rapidly
  3. Do not store oxygen tanks in an area of the car where temperature will exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Leave the windows open a crack to allow for some ventilation if tanks must be left for an extended period of time during warm weather.
  4. Do not carry tanks in the trunk of a car. (To prevent damage to the tanks in a rear-end accident.)
  5. It is a good idea to carry an extra tank with you when traveling, just in case your trip takes longer than expected.

Disclaimer: This information is intended for general education purposes only and should not be
relied upon as a substitute for professional and/or medical advice. Arizona Medical Equipment & Supply LLC accepts no liability for the content on this website or for the consequences of any action taken on the 
basis of the information provided. 


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