Concentrators, which take oxygen from the air,
are the least expensive. Standard concentrators need to be plugged into a power outlet and
are fairly heavy [about
30 lb (13.6 kg)]. A standard oxygen concentrator is typically used in the home. Portable oxygen concentrators are also
available. These usually have rechargeable batteries, are lighter, and may be used while
Cylinders, or tanks, of compressed or pressurized oxygen
gas come in several sizes. The largest are too heavy to move around. Smaller
tanks can be carried or pulled in a small cart. You might use a large tank as
backup in your home and have smaller tanks for use outside the
Liquid oxygen takes up less room than oxygen gas. Because of
this, smaller and lighter containers can hold more oxygen.
Oxygen can be given through a flexible plastic tube inserted
in the nostrils (nasal cannula) or through a face mask.
The nasal cannula gives you the greatest freedom
for moving around and talking. But this method may be more expensive than other
devices because of oxygen lost to the air. The amount of oxygen actually
inhaled may be less than with other methods of delivery.
need a higher flow of oxygen can use a face mask. But a face mask is less
portable and gets in the way of talking and eating. You might use a face mask
at night and a nasal cannula during the day.
Selecting the type of oxygen supply should be based on your
ability to move around. People who seldom leave the house may find an oxygen
concentrator gives the best combination of convenience and cost. More active
people may have an oxygen concentrator at home and use a portable oxygen tank
when they leave the house.
Oxygen is a fire hazard. It is
important to follow safety measures to keep you and your family safe. With all
oxygen delivery systems, do not use oxygen around lit cigarettes or an open
flame, because the risk of fire or explosion is high. If you or those who care
for you smoke, be sure to think very carefully about using oxygen
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.