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Portable Oxygen Concentrators: Benefits, Drawbacks and Alternatives

18 Apr 2017
| Under Lung Disease, Medical, Oxygen Levels | Posted by | 5 Comments
Portable Oxygen Concentrators: Benefits, Drawbacks and Alternatives

Portable oxygen concentrators may not be right for everyone. Find out if it’s right for you.

Among the traditional treatment options for chronic lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis (PF) and emphysema, the use of supplemental oxygen at the most severe stages is prescribed near-universally. Although other forms of medication are often used in tandem—inhalers, corticosteroids and prescription medications—the use of supplemental oxygen has remained a staple in the treatment of lung disease for its ability to provide continuing respiratory support for those who struggle with their oxygen intake on a day-to-day level. However, although the most recent 2017 GOLD COPD Treatment Guidelines have stated that oxygen should only be used for severe cases, when choosing oxygen equipment there are two primary solutions:

Getting an oxygen tank or a portable oxygen concentrator.

With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to break down Portable Oxygen Concentrators: Benefits, Drawbacks and Alternatives, and give you the information you need on what it is, what it does and most importantly, whether or not you need one.

What Are Portable Oxygen Concentrators?

In short, portable oxygen concentrators are respiratory equipment that work to provide oxygen relief to a patient with respiratory issues. However, what sets a portable oxygen concentrator apart from the traditional supplemental oxygen tank system (more on that later) is the fact that rather than using oxygen contained in a tank, a portable oxygen concentrator draws in air, purifies it by removing its nitrogen, and returns it to the wearer with each breath.

For patients who have been forced to purchase an un-ending stream of oxygen tanks throughout the years, the notion of a single (and compact) all-in-one device can be a deeply attractive proposition.

Benefits, Drawbacks, and Alternatives

Portable Oxygen Concentrators: Benefits, Drawbacks and Alternatives

It’s important to know the benefits, drawbacks and alternatives to portable oxygen concentrators, so you can make the best, most informed decision for you.


As we mentioned earlier, the benefits of a portable oxygen concentrator are pretty compelling. A wearer doesn’t have to worry about a lack of oxygen or their tank running out. The device is also inherently small and compact making it fundamentally more discreet and portable when traveling and getting around. For those who have lived the experience of walking a rolling oxygen tank around with them through the grocery store or post-office, the idea of a lightweight carrying pack for one’s oxygen can be life changing.

Among the physical benefits of a constant stream of supplemental oxygen, a wearer can expect to see improvements to their:

  • Mood
  • Sleep
  • Stamina
  • Cognition
  • Exercise ability
  • Independence
  • Mobility


However, despite the notable positives of a portable oxygen concentrator, there exist a variety of downsides and drawbacks that may cause pause or concern. To start, a portable oxygen concentrator isn’t cheap, with even the most basic model coming in at $1,500 dollars. Further still, this high upfront cost isn’t typically covered by Medicare or Medicaid due to the industry’s preference for cheaper supplemental oxygen tanks. Although the other downsides to a portable oxygen concentrator such as battery life or noise are negligible, and the initial investment in such a machine may be a high price to pay, the exchange for a lifetime free of oxygen may be worth the purchase.


When managing your treatment options, its critical to remember that, according to the new GOLD guidelines, supplemental oxygen should only be used by those with severe COPD or other respiratory diseases. For those experiencing mild symptoms, it has been shown that the effects of supplemental oxygen are relatively minor. However, if looking to address your symptoms more directly rather than relying on supplemental O2, cellular therapy has shown promising efficacy and potential in improving breathing within the airways. For some people, cellular therapy helps them return to their favorite activities, such a taking family vacations and spending more time with their grandchildren.

As an emerging treatment option, cellular therapy shows promise, and in its very nature, is merely the process of using a patient’s own healing mechanisms (cells) and reintroducing them into specific areas of the body. This is when the cells may begin to promote healing from within. The patient’s cells can be extracted from their blood, in a quick and generally painless experience.

What Can I Do Next?

A portable oxygen concentrator can be an incredibly beneficial option for those with severe chronic respiratory disease. Not only can it provide a consistent stream of oxygen, but it can also do so discreetly, and without the need for cumbersome oxygen tanks. However, for all of the benefits that a portable oxygen concentrator can provide, it cannot work to relieve the symptoms of chronic lung disease nor can it work to slow or reduce disease progression. Though there is no cure for COPD, PF or emphysema at this time, cellular therapy continues to represent a promising option in its potential to address symptoms, how it may slow disease progression, and shows promise in improving quality of life to those who may have otherwise given up hope.

Moving Forward

Portable Oxygen Concentrators: Benefits, Drawbacks and Alternatives

When looking to improves one’s quality of life with lung disease, the first steps should be always be to quit smoking. After that, personal routine and behavior should be addressed with a specific focus on diet and exercise. If these general lifestyle changes are undertaken purposefully, it’s possible to greatly affect the pronouncement of symptoms within your daily life. However, when lifestyle changes fail to improve your quality of life in the way you may expect, it may be time to consider cellular therapy. Rather than addressing the symptoms of lung disease, cellular therapy may directly affect disease progression and may improve your quality of life.

If you or a loved one suffers from a chronic lung disease like emphysema, COPD, PF or ILD, the Lung Institute may be able to help with a variety of cellular treatment options. Contact us today at 888-745-6697 to see if you qualify for cellular therapy, and find out what cellular therapy could mean for you.

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* Every patient is given a Patient Satisfaction Survey shortly after treatment. Responses to the 11-question survey are aggregated to determine patient satisfaction with the delivery of treatment.

^ Quality of Life Survey data measured the patient’s self-assessed quality of life and measurable quality of improvement at three months of COPD patients.

All claims made regarding the efficacy of Lung Institute's treatments as they pertain to pulmonary conditions are based solely on anecdotal support collected by Lung Institute. Individual conditions, treatment and outcomes may vary and are not necessarily indicative of future results. Testimonial participation is voluntary. Lung Institute does not pay for or script patient testimonials.

As required by Texas state law, the Lung Institute Dallas Clinic has received Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval from MaGil IRB, now Chesapeake IRB, which is fully accredited by the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Program (AAHRPP), for research protocols and procedures. The Lung Institute has implemented these IRB approved standards at all of its clinics nationwide. Approval indicates that we follow rigorous standards for ethics, quality, and protections for human research.

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