Getting high off oxygen

FRIDAY, May 23, 2003 (HealthDayNews) — Oxygen bars made their big-city debut during the flash and sizzle of the Clinton administration.

Now, customers pay through the nose to breathe scented, purified, highly oxygenated air in nightclubs and day spas in cities big and small, from Sacramento, Calif., to Ann Arbor, Mich., from Las Vegas to Asheville, N.C. The average price per minute of air: about $1.

But critics — and there are many — wish oxygen bars would go the way of the Y2K bug and 21-year-old dot-com millionaires.

They say there are no medical studies that show breathing oxygen in the manner it’s dispensed at oxygen bars has any health benefits whatsoever. And too much oxygen, especially for people with certain medical conditions, can be harmful.

“Based on our understanding of the science, it’s very hard to believe that the oxygen used in oxygen bars can be of any benefit,” says Dr. Norman Edelman, consultant for scientific affairs with the American Lung Association and vice president for health sciences at Stony Brook University in New York.

“And we also want to caution people that breathing pure oxygen for extended periods of time can cause respiratory problems,” Edelman adds.

But oxygen bar proprietors such as Lisa Hinchey shrug off the criticism.

She runs the 2202 Oxygen Bar and Organic Cafe in San Francisco. “Doctors don’t want you to do it because it takes money away from them. It detoxifies your blood cells, it gives you more stamina, it gives you pure, fresh energy, not like caffeine energy,” she says.

Hinchey says she breathes the oxygen at her bar for 40 minutes, three times a week.

“I feel really good and relaxed,” she says. “I sleep more soundly. I wake up more happy, it lifts up my spirit, it rejuvenates me. I’m more at peace with oxygen in my bloodstream.”

She says her clients include marathon runners, students preparing for their SATs, even older couples before they have sex.

Oxygen bars first appeared in Japan, Mexico and South America, where concerns about air pollution lead to an interest in breathing purified air, says Dr. Ron Balkissoon, a pulmonologist at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver.

By the late 90s, oxygen bars began appearing in major U.S. cities. Actor Woody Harrelson, best known for his role as the dim-witted bartender on the sitcom Cheers, opened one of the first on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles.

Then the U.S. Food and Drug Administration got wind of what was going on. Under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, any type of oxygen that’s “used for breathing and administered by another person is a prescription drug,” according to a recent article in the FDA Consumer magazine.

That means oxygen bars violate FDA regulations. Still, the agency leaves enforcement up to each state licensing board. “Many states choose to allow oxygen bars; others discourage the businesses by requiring strict compliance with the law,” according to the article.

No matter if those rules are enforced or not, there’s one thing oxygen bar owners can’t do in any state — make claims that oxygen can treat or cure illnesses.

To stay out of trouble, most oxygen bar owners avoid those claims, Balkissoon says. Instead, they say oxygen helps you relax, reduces stress, increases energy or alertness, and promotes general feelings of well-being.

But there’s no medical evidence that says any of this is true, Balkissoon says.

Besides, all the oxygen that healthy people need is right under their nose.

Air normally contains about 21 percent oxygen. At an oxygen bar, customers typically breathe the oxygen through a cannula, a two-pronged tube that fits loosely in the nostrils.

While the air coming out of the cannula might be nearly 100 percent oxygen, the person inhaling it will probably breathe from 50 percent to 75 percent oxygen because they’re still inhaling some room air, Balkissoon says.

If that sounds super healthy, think again.

In a healthy person, the hemoglobin in blood that transports oxygen is already 98 to 99 percent saturated with oxygen. Upping it another percentage point by breathing highly oxygenated air will have “absolutely no physiological effect,” says Balkissoon. “Any extra oxygen gets exhaled right back out. Your body can’t hold onto it.”

And while it probably would not happen in an oxygen bar, too much oxygen can be toxic. Excess oxygen can increase the production of free radicals, which can damage tissues and kill cells, he says. Over time, this can hinder brain, heart, lung, muscle and memory function.

Complications of excessive oxygen can also include pulmonary edema, or fluid on the lungs.

There are other concerns. Some oxygen bars used scented air in flavors ranging from eucalyptus to raspberry to mint.

If the scent is oil-based, it’s possible that tiny droplets of oil can be inhaled into the lungs, leading to a type of pneumonia called lipoid pneumonia, Edelman says.

People with emphysema or other chronic pulmonary obstructive disease should definitely stay away. For people already oxygen-compromised, breathing in too much oxygen can actually suppress their drive to breathe, Balkissoon says.

This can cause a buildup of carbon dioxide in their lungs, he says.

Finally, if you see an oxygen bar in a nightclub where people smoke, stay away, Balkissoon says. Oxygen feeds fires. “If you have any kind of a flame, and it comes into contact with pure oxygen, the flame will get bigger and bigger,” he says. “They could blow up the bar.”

More information

Read more about oxygen bars at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center. The American Lung Association has more on how oxygen supplementation is used for people with certain lung diseases.


Air for sale: An oxygen bar gains attention in pollution-hit New Delhi

The business venture offers clean oxygen as the city’s air contains tiny and toxic pollutants that penetrate lungs and bloodstreams and cause life-threatening diseases.

Out of New Delhi’s hazardous air quality someone has found a business opportunity. As damaging air quality has blanketed India’s capital city, a small entrepreneurial venture named Oxy Pure provides something the people rarely get in the city – ‘pure air’.

Founded by Aryavir Kumar, 26, and Margarita Kuritsyana, 25, Oxy Pure is Delhi’s first-ever oxygen bar, operating from one of the trendy shopping malls in South Delhi’s Saket area. The owners say they offer 15 minutes of 80-90 percent pure oxygen.

Each session of oxygen-therapy costs between $4 and $7, depending on the flavour a customer opts for. At least seven flavours – lavender, cinnamon, spearmint, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemongrass and orange — are on the menu.

Customers are given a lightweight nasal tube for supplementary oxygen intake. The device is clipped to nostrils and with each breath aroma-infused oxygen enters human lungs.

The owner of the oxygen bar says the concept exists in many countries abroad and he experienced it in the United States two years back.

“The beginning wasn’t as good as we expected it to be but slowly awareness grew about the brand. But due to the rise in pollution levels there has been a sudden increase of people coming to breathe pure air at the Oxy Bar,” said owner of the Oxy Pure, Aryavir Kumar.

“The number has almost doubled since last month,” he added.

Oxygen therapy sessions are believed to improve a person’s sinus, sleep patterns and digestion, cure headaches and migraines, and even act as an anti-depressants. (Bilal Kuchay / TRTWorld)

Kumar has a degree in hospitality from Switzerland and his family runs a chain of hotels across the country.

“I felt this is very interesting and it has got health benefits, why not bring it to my home country,” he said. “Initially, customers were very surprised and wondered what it is and how it works.

“The overall response has been good but there are some people who on social media write that why don’t we plant trees instead of going to such ventures.”

Based on the aroma a customer picks, some oxygen therapy sessions are believed to improve a person’s sinus, sleep patterns and digestion, cure headaches and migraines, and even act as an anti-depressants.

The session is not recommended for more than 15 minutes. “If the session is given for 20 or 25 minutes, a person’s lungs can swell and can feel pain in the stomach,” Abhilash Singh, 24, who works as a Sales Associate at Oxy Bar, told TRT World.

“It felt really very nice to go for this session, though I know it’s just for 15 minutes,” said Prerna Talwar, 32, who tried oxygen therapy for the first time.

“Usually, when I’m out I take heavier breaths and it sort of pains my chest a bit. But, I feel calm right now. It feels as if I’m at a hill station right now. I wish it feels same outside this bar as well,” she told TRT World.

New Delhi tops the chart of most polluted city in the world. Vehicles and industrial activities are major contributors to air pollution, along with rampant construction, but every year around October-November, the air quality in the Indian capital becomes hazardous due to crop burning in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana.

Earlier this month, New Delhi’s air quality broke all records, when it was in the hazardous range for nine consecutive days, making this the longest spell of hazardous air quality since public records began.

Authorities were forced to announce a public health emergency and launch a controversial vehicle rationing scheme for 10 days after levels of PM 2.5 – the particulate matter that penetrates through the lungs into the bloodstream – in the air surpassed 999 microgrammes in many locations. The World Health Organization (WHO) places the safe limit at 25 microgrammes.

A study of the Air Quality Life Index by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, released this month, said that the life expectancy of people living in the Indo-Gangetic Plain, comprising of the states of Bihar, Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, has reduced by up to seven years due to poor air quality.

Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called Delhi a “gas chamber” announcing that five million pollution masks will be distributed to students across the country’s capital.

“I came to know about this bar two days ago through a website and I found it very relevant because these days Delhi is suffering from toxic air. Apart from getting the feel of fresh air, I heard the session also helps in a person’s health as well so I thought I should go for it,” said 39-year-old Sharbani Banerjee.

Ms Banerjee said that people have been spending on so many things like packaged water and “now we pay for clean air”.

Pious Saraswat, 30, working in a diagnostic startup in Gurgaon, sees the business as an interesting idea amid rising pollution levels in the capital city and the National Capital Region (NCR).

“For the past few weeks, it has been terribly bad situation in New Delhi and NRC. Going out means walking into a gas chamber. To have an outlet like Oxy Pure means people can at least come and breathe pure air, no matter how short the session is,” Saraswat said.

However, he says that people belonging to a particular class can afford such a facility and it’s no way a solution to Delhi’s air pollution.

“I understand that this is not a permanent solution to pollution from any angle but if we don’t wake up, time is not far when we would require more such outlets,” he said.

“It’s terrible that we have to pay for breathing pure air,” said Diksha Das.

Source: TRT World

Benefits of Oxygen

Oxygen is Essential for Brain Activity

The brain demands at least 20% of the body’s oxygen supply, when it doesn’t get this supply it can lead to issues such as sleep apnea, poor concentration, forgetfulness, mood swings, restlessness, depressive thoughts and low drive.

“Extra oxygen has been shown to enhance mental performance and memory recall in healthy active adults in several clinical studies” Ref. Pmid: 10604851 (pubmed – indexed for medline)

– Dr. Andrew Scholey

Division of Psychology, University of Northumbria



Fatigue has been reported by several studies as one of the most common symptoms experienced by people worldwide*.

*”Boosting Your Energy” A Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School, Harvard Health Publications, 2006

Every breath you take converts to energy. Human cells use nutrients from food and oxygen to create adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy source that fuels cell function. If your cells receive too little oxygen, they produce less energy. If your cells need more energy, they use more oxygen. That’s why your breathing rate increases when you exercise.


Unlike muscles, your brain cannot store energy. It needs a steady flow of nutrients and oxygen to function normally. Oxygen deficiency can decrease your alertness, memory and judgment. Conditions that can reduce blood oxygen levels include:

  • air pollution
  • traveling to a higher elevation
  • breathing stale air that has less than the normal 20-21% oxygen.

“Insufficient oxygen means insufficient biological energy that can result in anything from mild fatigue to life-threatening disease. The link between insufficient oxygen and disease has now been firmly established.”

– Dr. W. Spencer

Way Journal of the American Association of Physicians

Other Benefits:

Studies have shown that oxygen helps:

  • Stimulate brain activity
  • Increase memory capacity
  • Boost concentration
  • Develop stronger alertness
  • Raise energy levels
  • Improve strength
  • Build endurance
  • Detox your blood
  • Reduce stress
  • Calm anxiety
  • Alleviate tension headaches
  • Remedy irregular sleeping patterns
  • Help with cardiovascular activity
  • Prevent lactic acid build up
  • Strengthen the immune system

Medical Thoughts on Oxygen:

“Extra oxygen enables you to recover more quickly from exertion. It allows someone to train and then exercise again.”

– Dr. John Brewer
Head of Sports Science at Lilleshall Human Performance Centre: Health and Fitness 1999.

“Oxygen can clear your head, help eliminate toxins, and give you a mind high”

– Andy Davison
Exercise Physiologist, Cosmopolitan 2000.

“If you use oxygen for 20 minutes, muscles become loosened; headaches and stress seem to disappear. There is a renewed energy and a feeling of relaxation. I am confident oxygen works.”

– Dr. Richard de Andrea
Sunday Herald.

“Increases alertness, improves the body’s ability to burn fat and enhances physical performance.”

– Howard Robbins
D.P.M, for The Journal

“Dr. Parris Kidd stated that ‘oxygen plays a pivotal role in the proper functioning of the immune system; i.e. resistance to disease, bacteria and viruses.’ Dr. Stephen Levine stated that ‘we can look at oxygen deficiency as the single greatest cause of disease.’ thus the development of a shortage of oxygen in the blood could very well be the starting point for the loss of the immune system and the beginning of feared health problems such as Cancer, Leukemia, AIDS, Candida, seizures, and nerve deterioration.”

– B. Goulet
The Magic of Aerobic Oxygen – Focus on Nutrition.

“In all serious disease states we find a concomitant low oxygen state…low oxygen in the body tissues is a sure indicator for disease… Hypoxia, or lack of oxygen in the tissues, is the fundamental cause for all degenerative disease.”

Renowned molecular biologist, author
Oxygen Deficiency: A concomitant to all degenerative illness.
– Dr. Stephen Levine

“I have MS and Fibro-Myalgia and have suffered with this debilitating condition for more than twelve years. I saw an oxygen bar at a health event and needed to sit down and by chance tried the oxygen. After this for four days I felt so active, had no pain, no fatigue, and no exhaustion and even managed to clean my house out. I made frequent trips in my car to the tip and charity shop of which I am normally unable do. I even went out for a meal and went shopping which I’ve never been able to do.”

– Carol Mason
Patmoor, Staffordshire.

Exercise with Oxygen Therapy

Basically, the body’s ability to transfer oxygen from the lungs to the cells is perhaps the most significant factor in whether you live a healthy life or not. This transfer mechanism becomes damaged with age, and then susceptibility to illness increases. However, EWOT aids the body in repairing this vital mechanism.

The scientific aspect of EWOT is a little complex, but here is a basic explanation. Oxygen comprises 20% of the atmosphere. Atmospheric pressure is 760 mm and thus the partial pressure of oxygen entering the body’s lungs is about 150 mm. However, oxygen in the lungs is diluted considerably with carbon dioxide. As the environment becomes increasingly polluted, the oxygen we intake is more and more diluted by carbon dioxide leaving the body and in the atmosphere. After oxygen is diluted, its pressure is reduced to 100-110 mm. This pressure drives the oxygen from the lungs into the blood and via the arteries to the capillaries in the extremities of the body. The capillaries then release some of the oxygen to support individual cells.

Ideally, the pressure of the oxygen in the arteries will almost equal the pressure in the lungs. However, aging causes the arterial pressure to decrease to approximately 70mm as opposed to 95 mm.
In order for the oxygen to reach the cells from the capillaries, it must dissolve into the water of the body. Unlike carbon dioxide, though, oxygen does not dissolve easily into liquid. The significance is this: Oxygen’s solubility is heavily dependent on the pressure driving it.

Dr. Rowen of Second Opinion explains Oxygen is extracted in the capillaries and when the blood comes out the venous end of the capillary, the average pressure of oxygen in the veins is about 40mm early in life and drops to 35 mm by age 70. The difference in the pressure of oxygen between the arterial and venous sides reflects how well the oxygen is delivered and consumed.

In your 30s, the amount of oxygen released to the cells is significantly higher than in your 70s: a 30 year-old will release 55mm (95-40) while a 70 year-old will release 35 mm (70-35). That’s a huge drop in the amount of pressure of oxygen your cells receive.

The problem is that when you age, the oxygen pressure falls. Thus, while the volume of oxygen may stay the same and it may appear you are getting enough, you may be oxygen deficient because there isn’t enough pressure to make use of the volume of oxygen.

The breakthrough of EWOT is that it raises the arterial pressure to youthful levels; it only involves breathing high levels of oxygen while exercising. Exercise increases the circulation, creating a greater pressure to drive oxygen into the capillaries. The increase in pressure facilitates the repair of the transfer mechanism. EWOT is effective for every conceivable condition because it improves the delivery of the most essential substance in tissue life and repair.

Is it harmful to breathe 100-percent oxygen?

We breathe air that is 21 percent oxygen, and we require oxygen to live. So you might think that breathing 100 percent oxygen would be good for us — but actually it can be harmful. So, the short answer is, pure oxygen is generally bad, and sometimes toxic. To understand why, you need to go into some detail …

Your lungs are basically a long series of tubes that branch out from your nose and mouth (from trachea to bronchi to bronchioles) and end in little thin-walled air sacs called alveoli. Think of soap bubbles on the end of a straw, and you’ll understand alveoli. Surrounding each alveolus are small, thin-walled blood vessels, called pulmonary capillaries. Between the capillaries and the alveolus is a thin wall (about 0.5 microns thick) through which various gases (oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen) pass.


When you inhale, the alveoli fill with this air. Because the oxygen concentration is high in the alveoli and low in the blood entering the pulmonary capillaries, oxygen diffuses from the air into the blood. Likewise, because the concentration of carbon dioxide is higher in the blood that’s entering the capillaries than it is in the alveolar air, carbon dioxide passes from the blood to the alveoli. The nitrogen concentration in the blood and the alveolar air is about the same. The gases exchange across the alveolar wall and the air inside the alveoli becomes depleted of oxygen and rich in carbon dioxide. When you exhale, you breathe out this carbon dioxide enriched, oxygen-poor air.

Oxygen Therapy

You can receive oxygen therapy from tubes resting in your nose, a face mask, or a tube placed in your trachea, or windpipe. This treatment increases the amount of oxygen your lungs receive and deliver to your blood. Oxygen therapy may be prescribed for you when you have a condition that causes your blood oxygen levels to be too low. Low blood oxygen may make you feel short of breath, tired, or confused, and can damage your body.

Oxygen therapy can be given for a short or long period of time in the hospital, another medical setting, or at home. Oxygen is stored as a gas or liquid in special tanks. These tanks can be delivered to your home and contain a certain amount of oxygen that will require refills. Another device for use at home is an oxygen concentrator, which pulls oxygen out of the air for immediate use. Because oxygen concentrators do not require refills, they won’t run out of oxygen. Portable tanks and oxygen concentrators may make it easier for you to move around while using your therapy.

Oxygen poses a fire risk, so you should never smoke or use flammable materials when using oxygen. You may experience side effects from this treatment, such as a dry or bloody nose, tiredness, and morning headaches. Oxygen therapy is generally safe.

Visit Oxygen Therapy for more information about this topic.

Pure Oxygen Is Bad for Your Brain

It’s a scenario straight out of “Grey’s Anatomy”— a paramedic or doctor plops a mask over the face of a person struggling to breathe and begins dispensing pure oxygen.

Yet growing research suggests that inhaling straight oxygen can actually harm the brain. For the first time, a new UCLA brain-imaging study reveals why. Published in the May 22 edition of the journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) Medicine, the findings fly in the face of national guidelines for medical practice and recommend a new approach that adds carbon dioxide to the mix to preserve brain function in patients.

“For decades, the medical community has championed 100 percent oxygen as the gold standard for resuscitation. But no one has reported what happens inside our brains when we inhale pure oxygen,” said Ronald Harper, distinguished professor of neurobiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “What we discovered adds to a compelling body of evidence for modifying a widely practiced standard of care in the United States.”

Harper’s team used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to capture detailed pictures of what occurs inside the human brain during two different breathing scenarios. The technique detects subtle increases in blood flow triggered by the activation of different parts of the brain, causing these regions to glow or light up on the color scan.

The researchers scanned the brains of 14 healthy children, ages 8 to 15, and monitored their breathing and heart rates as they inhaled 100 percent oxygen through a mouthpiece for two minutes. After waiting eight minutes for the youngsters’ breathing to return to normal, the team added 5 percent carbon dioxide to the gas mixture and repeated the scan.

A comparison of the two scans revealed dramatic differences.

“When the children inhaled pure oxygen, their breathing quickened, resulting in the rapid exhalation of carbon dioxide from their bodies,” said study co-author Paul Macey, a UCLA associate researcher in neurobiology. “The drop in carbon dioxide narrowed their blood vessels, preventing oxygen from reaching tissue in the brain and heart.”

That’s when something surprising happened on the MRI scan. Three brain structures suddenly lit up: the hippocampus, which helps control blood pressure; the cingulate cortex, which regulates pain perception and blood pressure; and the insula, which monitors physical and emotional stress.

All this activity awakened the hypothalamus, which regulates heart rate and hormonal outflow. Activation of the hypothalamus triggered a cascade of harmful reactions and released chemicals that can injure the brain and heart over time.

“Several brain areas responded to 100 percent oxygen by kicking the hypothalamus into overdrive,” explained Harper. “The hypothalamus overreacted by dumping a massive flood of hormones and neurotransmitters into the bloodstream. These chemicals interfere with the heart’s ability to pump blood and deliver oxygen — the opposite effect you want when you’re trying to resuscitate someone.”

When the children inhaled the carbon dioxide–oxygen mix, the hypothalamus’ hyperactivity vanished from the MRI scan.

“Adding carbon dioxide to the oxygen relaxed the blood vessels, allowed oxygen to reach the heart and brain, calmed the hypothalamus and slowed the release of dangerous chemicals,” Macey said.

“Pure oxygen kindles the match that fuels a forest fire of harm to the body,” Harper said. “But a little whiff of carbon dioxide makes it all go away.”

Based on their findings, the researchers strongly encourage health care providers to add carbon dioxide to oxygen dispensation, especially when resuscitating infants or administering oxygen for more than a few minutes. The new direction could hold particular implications for patients of stroke, heart attack, carbon monoxide poisoning and any long-term oxygen therapy.

“When in doubt about a case, the current medical approach is to increase oxygen levels and wait to see if the patient improves,” explained Harper. “But no one has ever scanned patients’ brains to examine how they respond to oxygen therapy.”

Earlier data on high oxygen’s harmful effects have already resulted in policy changes overseas. Instead of using straight oxygen, many European hospitals now resuscitate patients with room air, which contains a mixture of nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide, or with a blend of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Mary Woo, professor at the UCLA School of Nursing, was a co-author of the study, which was supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Development.

Source: UCLA

Explore further

Best of Last Year: The top TechXplore articles of 2019 Citation: Pure Oxygen Is Bad for Your Brain (2007, May 22) retrieved 2 February 2020 from This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Oxygen is vital for life—without it, severe brain damage may ensue in as little as three minutes. So doctors routinely treat traumas such as heart attack or stroke by providing victims with more oxygen. Mounting evidence suggests, however, that resuscitating with too much of the gas may actually have a harmful effect. The culprit in brain damage may not be a lack of oxygen but rather its reintroduction into the body.

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas reported in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism on March 12 that resuscitating baby mice with pure oxygen caused more brain damage and cerebral palsy–like coordination problems, as compared with mice that breathed air during resuscitation.

“Our results are counterintuitive,” says developmental biologist Steven Kernie, lead author of the study. “Many think oxygen doesn’t hurt and you can give as much as possible to make up for a deficiency. Our study shows this notion is wrong.”

Although Kernie’s study does not exactly mimic patient care—physicians usually administer slightly above air’s 21 percent oxygen and rarely more than 60 percent—it raises the important possibility that doctors are treating patients the wrong way, says Lance Becker, professor of emergency medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and director of its Center for Resuscitation Science*, who similarly showed in 2004 that cells were much more likely to die after being reexposed to oxygen than they were when deprived. In fact, Becker explains, physicians do not know how much is too much or whether administering extra amounts actually benefits patients at all.

So why would treating injuries with a molecule that fuels life actually do the reverse? Evidence suggests that pumping in too much oxygen too quickly can strip the molecule of a single electron, creating a free radical. Free radicals, linked to rapid aging, are highly reactive with other molecules, including vital DNA and proteins, the destruction of which can damage or kill cells.

Treating with too much oxygen, therefore, could increase the production of free radicals and make a bad situation even worse. The key is to find that “sweet spot,” Becker says—the optimal amount to give a person so he or she can recover with minimal damage.

A Chilly Solution
How can doctors avoid the toxic effects of reintroducing oxygen to the body after a trauma? Hypothermia therapy—lowering a patient’s body temperature to decrease metabolic rate and thus the need for oxygen—may be a solution, according to Hasan Alam, a trauma surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital who established that the therapy worked in critically wounded Yorkshire pigs. The technique is popular for preserving transplant organs and reducing the need for oxygenated blood during heart surgery, but it has not been widely tested in trauma patients. Despite its high-profile use on professional football’s Kevin Everett after his paralyzing spine injury in September 2007, hypothermia treatment remains controversial, and studies of its effectiveness are inconclusive.

Note: This article was originally printed with the title, “The Oxygen Dilemma”.

*Erratum (10/28/08): Lance Becker was originally identified as the director of emergency medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Noon Edition

In order for us to live we must have oxygen, so how can it be bad for us? Today we explain how oxygen can be toxic.

Toxic? Really?

Unbeknown to most people, too much oxygen can be toxic. After several days of breathing nothing but pure oxygen, you’d begin to experience nausea, dizziness, muscle twitches, and convulsions. You might even die.

Ironically, too much oxygen actually inhibits ventilation and ends up slowing down the delivery of oxygen to your body’s tissues. Another problem is that certain tissues, like the lining of the lungs and the walls of the arteries, are very sensitive to oxygen. The cornea is also very sensitive to oxygen; you may have heard of people who have gone blind because, as newborns, the oxygen levels in their incubators were too high.

Oxygen Molecules

Scientists aren’t really sure why oxygen affects the body this way. Some think it has to do with a special form of the oxygen molecule which bonds with the proteins and membranes in the lining of the lungs, and ends up destroying them. In other words, with too much oxygen around, your insides begin to oxidize.

What Is Canned Oxygen and When Do You Use It?

Canned oxygen is a game-changer. It’s an effective, all-natural energy supplement and recovery aid that can help you feel…well, more like your best you again! Unlike other energy supplements or energy alternatives, its side effect-free with no carbs, no calories, no caffeine, and no crash. Yet oxygen in a can goes further. Let’s explore what’s inside a can of Oxygen Plus (O+) and see what quality oxygen can do for you and when you will want to use it.

What is Canned Oxygen?

Canned oxygen is oxygen that’s delivered to your mouth or nose, most commonly from an aluminum canister (or more accurately, a cylinder) through a pressurized mechanism (not a propellant) when the user depresses the actuator and inhales. Inside every quality can of oxygen, you’ll find – believe it or not – pure oxygen, which is more aptly defined and described as “recreational oxygen.”

In 2003, Oxygen Plus – the pioneers and leaders of the growing category – placed “canned oxygen” into the category of “recreational oxygen” with the introduction of the world’s first truly consumer-friendly, portable, lightweight canned oxygen products: The O+ Mini and O+ Elevate Pack.

“Recreational oxygen,” a term that has become somewhat synonymous with “canned oxygen,” essentially applies to any oxygen product that is neither medical nor industrial oxygen. A stationary oxygen bar would also be considered “recreational oxygen” even though the oxygen creation process and purity differs from quality canned oxygen products. Starting at the same purity as medical, industrial or aviator’s breathing oxygen (ABO), the oxygen from quality recreational oxygen products naturally mix with some ambient air as the user inhales, thus lowering the total percentage of oxygen inhaled, due to the process or application of breathing from a canister. Therefore, while impossible to measure, the actual percentage of O2 delivered with each breath is closer to 97% oxygen due to the process or application of breathing O+.

In addition, in contrast to other oxygen delivery systems in the United States and other countries, canned oxygen does not require an individual to sit still or be tied to a machine, insert a cannula, maintain a steady flow rate of O2, nor does it require a prescription from a doctor. Unlike medical or industrial oxygen, recreational oxygen products are not regulated by the FDA, but rather are designed for, and intended to be used intermittently, by people whose oxygen levels are occasionally depleted as a consequence of living an active, healthy lifestyle. Recreational oxygen products like Oxygen Plus are not intended to be used for medical or life-saving purposes and any person with any type of health or medical condition should consult their physician prior to use of Oxygen Plus products.

Oxygen Plus products contain no added flavors, scents, aerosols, fillers, toxins, chemicals or preservatives. Quite a refreshing thing to hear – and be able to breathe – in our modern, over-industrialized world!

Oxygen in a Can is Great to Use When…

There’s no shortage of options when it comes to when and where you should inhale a few deep breaths of Oxygen Plus. Here are some of the best uses we’ve found for O+ oxygen in a can:

After a Long Flight

Anyone who’s ever been stuck on a commercial plane ride for more than three hours knows that the struggle is real. At cruising altitude, airline cabins have lower-than-normal air pressure and oxygen levels – with blood oxygen saturation up to 10% lower than normal (Boosting Your Energy). Airplane cabins are not pressurized to sea level, so passengers on long-haul flights are exposed to reduced oxygen pressure for periods of up to 18 hours at a time (Geertsema).

Add airport security measures, increased flight delays, bad food, layovers and sometimes excess consumption of alcohol or caffeine products, you may feel drained, exhausted and disoriented when you travel by commericial air. All you want to do is lay in bed, but you’re in a new destination and want to take full advantage of the experience. So, you suffer through it.

With canned oxygen from Oxygen Plus, you can hit the ground running. Breathing O+ oxygen helps you instantly alleviate the common symptoms of jet lag and air travel by providing a pure boost of quality oxygen when you land. If your oxygen levels are depleted, a few deep breaths of Oxygen Plus can help you feel like you never left the ground!

Note that currently in the U.S., canned oxygen cannot be taken on commercial planes. But don’t fret: We can ship your supply of Oxygen Plus directly to you at your destination. Anywhere except a P.O. Box.

After a Long Night

Sometimes a late night out brings on a rough next morning. Alcohol consumption can deplete the oxygen content in your bloodstream. Supplementing your body with oxygen helps increases the amount of oxygen to the body’s cells, serving as an aid to help lessen, and recover from, the negative effects of hangovers. People who occasionally over-indulge have found that extra oxygen intake helps them recover more quickly, helping to fight off the symptoms of a late night out.

When Spending Time in a Highly-Polluted Area

Whether you live in a big city or are taking a trip to a metropolis, you may want a canister of O+ oxygen on-hand to help diminish your exposure to polluted and stale air. Sadly, air pollution is prominent in our world today, and it can impact your mental and physical well-being. Air pollution is often identified by the visibility of ‘brown’ air, however, harmful levels of pollutants can be present even in clear conditions. Poor outdoor air quality or high levels of pollution contains particulate matter, which can hinder your body from receiving the oxygen levels it needs to function at its optimal level. With a boost of O+ oxygen, you can combat the effects of air pollution, which can include fatigue, stress, anxiety…the list goes on.

In the Mornings to Give you a Jolt of Energy

For the people who want an alternative – or want to add an additional elevating experience – to a cup of coffee, have a few big hits of Oxygen Plus. O+ oxygen is an all-natural alternative to caffeine – without any calories, carbs or that common caffeine crash. If your oxygen levels are depleted, breathing O+ canned oxygen can restore your body’s depleted oxygen levels to normal, healthy levels, helping you feel more alert, alive…more like you again. Conveniently portable and effective at any elevation or temperature up to 120°F, O+ canned oxygen can be used anytime you want an energy boost or recovery aid – morning, day, or night – without any side effects.

When Training or Exercising to Enhance Athletic Performance, Increase Endurance and Speed Up Recovery

Oxygen is key to optimal athletic performance, helping to improve your endurance and speed up your muscle recovery. Lack of oxygen at the cellular level is essentially why you start breathing heavily during an intense workout – your brain and body need more oxygen. So next time you’re working out, set your goals, and introduce O+ pure recreational oxygen into your training program. When used correctly for your desired goal, oxygen can be a powerful tool that can help improve the results of your physical fitness and athletic performance.

Fueled by their founding principle belief that everyone deserves access to breathe pure oxygen when and where they want it, Oxygen Plus has made canned oxygen part of the modern-day, everyday lifestyle of people of all ages and interests who want to go further and feel their best. Dedicated to making the world a healthier place to live and breathe, Oxygen Plus portable recreational oxygen products are there – any time your mind or body wants a lift.

So whenever your oxygen levels are depleted from Air Quality, Travel, Study, Elevation, Sport or Recovery – take a deep breath of pure energy and recovery from Oxygen Plus.


Geertsema, C, Williams, AB, Dzendrowskyj, P, Hanna, C, “Effects of commercial airline travel on oxygen saturation in athletes,” British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2008;42:877-881

Boosting Your Energy, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

Do OTC Canned Oxygen Canisters Work?

In the last 10 years, oxygen canisters have gained popularity with many canned oxygen brands popping up online, in sporting stores and in big box stores. While the claims made by canned oxygen companies are compelling and the low cost of the oxygen canisters may be alluring to people who require medical oxygen, the fact is that recreational oxygen cannot replace medical oxygen supplementation for a variety of quality control and safety reasons.

What Is Canned Oxygen?

Canned oxygen is recreational oxygen stored in an aluminum canister and delivered through a pressurized mechanism. Because canned oxygen is not medical or industrial oxygen, it can be easily purchased over the counter and does not require a prescription. Canned oxygen is not FDA regulated and is only designed to be used periodically rather than continually.

What Is Canned Oxygen’s Intended Use?

Canned oxygen is made to be used recreationally and intermittently. Manufacturers claim that it can increase your energy, help improve focus and concentration, relieve stress, ease muscle pain, improve stamina, improve sleep and help you recover from jet lag and hangovers. Some manufacturers even claim that recreational oxygen can help slow the aging process. While these are big claims, the question is whether the science really backs these claims up, and so far it does not.

How Does Canned Oxygen Work?

Canned oxygen works by providing pure oxygen in an aluminum canister. The oxygen is inhaled directly from the actuator as it is depressed, which means that even if the oxygen is completely pure inside the canister, it will mix with the surrounding air as it is inhaled from the actuator, lowering the amount of oxygen that is actually inhaled. The amount of oxygen that is successfully inhaled by each user cannot be measured, but manufacturers claim it is approximately 95 to 97%, though this is highly unlikely if only due to user error. The ambient air we breathe contains about 21% oxygen, so these are significant claims. However, it is more likely that canned oxygen provides around 35 or 40% oxygen because of the way the canisters require users to inhale. Regardless, the effectiveness of canned oxygen is significantly less than medically prescribed oxygen delivered via oxygen tank or oxygen concentrator.

Is Canned Oxygen Beneficial?

It is important to remember that the FDA does not regulate recreational oxygen, and none of the claims made by canned oxygen manufacturers have been evaluated by the FDA. While some athletes regularly use canned oxygen after strenuous exercise, like sprinting, to help with oxygenation, it is difficult to tell whether it is providing actual physical benefits or simply a placebo effect. Moreover, because the oxygen provided by canned oxygen manufacturers is mixed with the surrounding air, it is hard for these products to have any marked effect on the oxygen in the blood and tissue.

Does Canned Oxygen Have Medical Uses?

Canned oxygen is designed for recreational use and is not approved for medical use, which is why it is available over the counter without a prescription. Since it is so hard to measure the amount of oxygen the user actually receives from a canned oxygen product, it would be irresponsible to use canned oxygen for medical supplementation. For people with lung diseases like COPD and breathing conditions like asthma, attempting to use canned oxygen to treat breathing problems is potentially quite dangerous, and could even be life-threatening. Finally, sharing recreational oxygen with other people could also be dangerous for people who are already experiencing breathing difficulties as it could encourage the spread of bacteria or certain impurities or infections in the respiratory system.

For people requiring oxygen supplementation for medical reasons, doctors are able to prescribe supplemental oxygen via reliable delivery systems like oxygen tanks or oxygen concentrators. The FDA regulates these oxygen sources and evaluates all medical claims, helping to ensure that the product you receive is safe for medical use.

Why Is a Prescription Necessary for Medical Oxygen Supplementation?

When it comes to therapeutic oxygen for medical use, it is essential to work directly with your health care provider to get an oxygen therapy prescription that meets your needs. Your doctor will evaluate your breathing issues and customize an oxygen therapy plan especially for you. It is important to follow your health care providers’ instructions and prescription for oxygen treatments in order to ensure that you get the maximum benefit.

Which Oxygen Sources Are Best for Medical Use?

While canned oxygen should never be used for medical treatment, there are lightweight and portable oxygen therapy options available. Medical oxygen therapy is almost always delivered via oxygen tanks or oxygen concentrators, both of which are regulated by the FDA and can allow your oxygen intake to be carefully monitored. Depending on your unique needs and situation, you may be prescribed liquid oxygen or compressed oxygen, both of which are delivered via tank, or a stationary or portable oxygen concentrator. Because oxygen concentrators are able to provide oxygen without requiring refills, and the portable versions are often much smaller and easier to use than portable tanks, oxygen concentrators are often preferred over oxygen tanks. Talk with your health care provider about which oxygen sources are ideal for your medical needs, as well as how frequently you will need oxygen treatments and for what length of time.

Know the Difference Between Canned Oxygen and Medical Oxygen Delivery Systems

No matter how convincing the marketing may be for canned oxygen, there is almost no proof that it works at all unless you are a serious athlete. While it could be helpful for athletes who frequently sprint or experience bursts of exertion, there have been no proven benefits for any other population. Canned oxygen and other recreational oxygen products should never be used interchangeably or in place of medically prescribed supplemental oxygen, and could be potentially dangerous to the patient if used in such a way. If you require oxygen therapy to help treat your lung disorder or breathing condition, make sure you only use the medically approved supplemental oxygen delivery systems prescribed to you by your health care providers.

The Side Effects of Using Canned Oxygen

Canned oxygen is quickly becoming a top choice for naturally restoring and refreshing the mind and body. In medical and non-medical scenarios, oxygen is used to help everything from sleeping disorders to asthma, fatigue, athletic performance and more. Now available in a portable, recreational application by the pioneers of pure recreational oxygen, Oxygen Plus (O+), allows people with healthy, active lifestyles to go even further without a hitch. Is it really too good to be true? Are you wondering if there’s a catch? There really isn’t one.

Oxygen Plus’s refined and expansive collection of Oxygen Plus canned oxygen products offer healthy, wellness-minded individuals the highest quality oxygen at a great value. The company is fueled by their founding belief that everyone deserves access to pure oxygen. When used as directed, oxygen for recreational use, has no side effects, zero calories, zero carbs and zero caffeine – which means zero potential for the jitters or a crash. Oxygen Plus is an all-natural product: Conveniently portable and there for you…any time you need a lift.

Zero side effects for using canned oxygen as an energy supplement

Energy supplement products are everywhere. They line the shelves at your local grocery store, sit in piles on the counter as you pay for gas, and they’re seen throughout the workplace as a quick fix for a boost of energy. Unfortunately, these types of energy boosts come with extra carbs and sugar and/or a post-surge crash. In order to avoid the crash, you have to suffer through it or take more to curtail the side effects. Studies have found that energy shots have calories, carbs and caffeine that can be harmful to your health (Medical News Today: Whiteman).

Moreover, energy drinks and shots are not likely addressing the real energy crisis you’re experiencing at work or school: depleted oxygen levels that can affect your cognition, focus and mental clarity.

Canned oxygen, such as Oxygen Plus, has none of these negative side effects. O+ oxygen is safe for healthy people using the product as directed, and there are no side effects nor is there a potential to become addicted or overdose. In their article, The Need for Supplemental Oxygen, the University of California San Francisco wrote, “There is no such thing as becoming “dependent on” or “addicted to” supplemental oxygen — everybody needs a constant supply of oxygen to live” (University of California San Francisco). The effect of breathing Oxygen Plus is smoother, and the energy is less like a jolt or caffeine rush. It is more restorative, relaxing and invigorating than unhealthier energy alternatives. When people breath O+ oxygen, they report feeling more alert, focused, and ready to take on the day.

Zero side effects when using canned oxygen to clear morning fog after a late night out

In addition to energy shots lining the shelves of your local stores, there is a growing line-up of supplements touting to help you get over your hangover. Desperate to survive the day, you might be tempted to put these supplements on the checkout counter as you pay for your groceries or gas.

Some supplements may help you feel better for a little while, however in a couple of hours you may wish you opted for a healthier, more effective option. Consuming alcohol depletes the oxygen content in your bloodstream. The use of supplemental oxygen increases the amount of oxygen to the body’s cells, serving as an aid to help lessen, and recover from, the negative effects of hangovers. On a cellular level, breathing canned oxygen helps break down and disperse the harmful chemicals and substances that may be stuck in your body. People who occasionally overindulge have found that extra oxygen intake helps them recover more quickly – without any of the side effects of those alternative options. So next time you’re out on the town drinking responsibly, you might dare stay out and breathe your Oxygen Plus the next morning to help take the edge off.

Zero side effects for using portable oxygen to revitalize your mind

When you reach for a cup of Joe, you can feel the java rush through your body as if it’s lighting your brain on fire – in a good way. But did you know that caffeine actually takes 15 to 20 minutes to take its chemical effect in your body (Medical News Today: Whiteman)? That means your first sips of coffee are more like a mental placebo. Regardless, when the caffeine fix sets in, you feel alert and awake…until the effects of caffeine subside and you’re left with the jitters and the struggle to keep your eyes open and your mind on task.

Unlike caffeine, Oxygen Plus’s side effect-free oxygen in a can is an excellent alternative for revitalizing your mind and getting over that midday lull. O+ oxygen helps sharpen your mental focus, and enhance your productivity without the risk of crashing down the 2 to 3 P.M. tunnel of darkness after the effects wear off.

Zero side effects for using oxygen in a can to enhance athletic performance

After a long day at work, finding the energy to workout can be a challenge in and of itself. You’re tired and have little energy left over. So, maybe you mix up or grab an on-the-go energy supplement. It may get you to the gym, however some energy supplements are loaded with carbs, caffeine, calories or other ingredients an elite athlete may not want. Oxygen Plus products may offer wellness-minded athletes the healthier energy alternative they’ve been looking for.

O+ oxygen can help you reach your fitness goals faster and recover faster so you don’t have excessively sore muscles the next day. With Oxygen Plus, you get pure, all-natural energy and recovery on-demand with oxygen in a can – minus any side effects. O+ oxygen is effective in its ability to quickly restore depleted oxygen levels to normal, healthy levels – so you can feel and perform at your peak. Moreover, because canned recreational oxygen is not a WADA banned product, supplementing with Oxygen Plus is an acceptable way to gain a competitive edge.

Get the restorative, energizing benefits you want for your healthy, everyday lifestyle with Oxygen Plus without any of the side effects commonly associated with energy boosting alternatives. Breathing several deep breaths from the O+ Skinni, O+ Biggi or the O-Stick from the O+ Elevate Pack can help you tackle your mental and physical goals, side effect-free. As long as you breathe Oxygen Plus when your body’s oxygen levels are depleted, and breathe enough of it to restore your depleted oxygen levels to normal, healthy levels, Oxygen Plus will serve as an effective, on-demand energy and recovery supplement. Al of that said, there really is no catch to breathing easy with Oxygen Plus.

*Oxygen Plus (O+) products are intended for recreational, intermittent use only, not to be used as medical nor life-saving products. Prolonged use is defined as uninterrupted intake for more than 8 hours. Any person with any type of health or medical condition should consult their physician prior to use of O+ products. Since O+ is not a medical product or intended for medical use, it is neither regulated nor approved by the FDA.

Whiteman, “How Energy Drinks Affect Your Body Within 24 Hours.” Articles. Medical News Today. 15 Aug 2015. Web. 14 Aug 2017

“The Need For Supplemental Oxygen.” Education. University of California San Francisco. Web. 14 Aug. 20016

Best Portable Oxygen Concentrators

Please note: like pressurized oxygen tanks, oxygen concentrators carry a high risk of combustion. People should never smoke while using concentrators, and the device should be stored in a cool, dry place away from heat sources and flammable chemicals.

Concentrators utilize a process known as ‘pressure swing adsorption.’ All gases are adsorbed, or attracted to solid surfaces under certain pressurized settings, but the rate of attraction to various surfaces under certain pressurized settings is different for each gas.

Specifically, concentrators contain zeolite minerals that attract nitrogen at a higher rate than oxygen. When the concentrator takes in air, these zeolite minerals essentially trap and contain nitrogen, which can be harmful to humans when inhaled, while a component known as a ‘molecular sieve’ allows purified, oxygen-rich air to pass through the concentrator and into the user’s breathing apparatus. Concentrators are designed to delivery oxygen at certain purity levels, usually between 87% to 96%.

Concentrators work using the following four-step process:

  • Step 1: The concentrator draws in outside air.
  • Step 2: The concentrator compresses the air; the device is equipped with a cooling mechanism to prevent it from overheating
  • Step 3: Zeolite minerals attract and contain the nitrogen, while oxygen passes through the molecular sieve.
  • Step 4: Purified oxygen is delivered to the user’s facial apparatus, which usually takes the form of nasal tubing or a face mask.

Users can adjust the airflow rate using the device’s built-in interface. Most portable concentrators can deliver oxygen at a rate of up to two or three liters per minute (LPM) under the continuous flow setting. Additionally, they may select the ‘pulse flow’ setting that only delivers oxygen when the patient is inhaling.

Because the pulse flow is much more conservative than the continuous flow, the airflow rate typically ranges from one to six LPM, and some models have up to nine pulse flow settings. Higher LPM rates will drain the battery quicker, but this is a non-issue when the concentrator is plugged into an outlet. Also, please note that some concentrator models forgo the continuous flow completely and only feature pulse flow settings.

In terms of size, portable concentrators typically measure between 6 and 20 inches high, 6 and 9 inches wide, and 2.5 and 4.5 inches wide. The average portable concentrator weighs between 2 and 6 pounds, though some may weigh 20 pounds or more.

Most models list temperature and humidity level ranges at which the device can be operated and stored. Additionally, concentrators will not work properly at certain altitudes. The maximum elevation is usually 10,000 feet or higher. This figure is important for determining whether or not a concentrator is suitable for air travel, but customers should also ensure the product has been approved for use on planes by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Who Uses Portable Oxygen Concentrators?

Medical conditions that may require oxygen therapy from a concentrator include:

  • Bronchitis: This disorder is characterized by inflammation in the airways that lead to mucus production. Mucus buildup can cause the airways to become narrower, making it difficult to breathe.
  • Emphysema: Human lungs contain air sacs that inflate like balloons when you inhale and deflate when you exhale. Emphysema refers to damaged air sacs that cannot inflate and deflate properly, often leading to chronic shortness of breath.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder: Also known as COPD, this disorder is essentially a combination of bronchitis and emphysema. In most cases, COPD is caused by chronic smoking.
  • Pneumonia: Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can lead to a high fever and chronic coughing. In healthy adults, pneumonia symptoms typically clear up within a couple of weeks — but the condition can be very serious, and sometimes fatal, in patients with compromised immune systems, such as young children and the elderly.
  • Asthma: Like bronchitis, asthma is caused by inflammation of the airways. Asthma attacks are characterized by coughing, wheezing, and chest constriction; an inhaler is usually prescribed to asthma patients.
  • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia: Also known as BPD, most people develop this lung infection during infancy; it is common in premature babies. The condition may be lifelong, and can lead to long-term breathing problems.
  • Congestive heart failure: Heart failure slows the movement of blood throughout the body, which results in insufficient oxygen flow. This condition is considered the leading health problem among elderly people in the U.S.; nearly 700,000 people are diagnosed with congestive heart failure each year.
  • Cystic fibrosis: This chronic lifelong condition causes thick mucus to accumulate throughout the body, including the lungs and airways. Breathing difficulty is a common symptom of cystic fibrosis.
  • Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by temporary loss of breath during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is caused by a physical impediment that restricts the airway and makes breathing more difficult, while central sleep apnea (CSA) occurs when the brain is unable to send the proper signals to muscles that control breathing. People with apnea may experience loss of breath more than 100 times per night, but most episodes only last a few seconds.

Regardless of the patient’s condition(s), physicians will evaluate him/or her to determine if oxygen therapy is the most suitable treatment method. They may draw a blood sample to measure the oxygen levels in the patient’s blood or use a pulse oximeter, which measures oxygen levels without requiring a blood sample.

Additionally, physicians look for the following symptoms of low blood-oxygen levels:

  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Chronic shortness of breath
  • Rapid breathing
  • Chronic coughing or wheezing
  • Sweating

Low blood-oxygen levels often necessitate oxygen therapy. The average adult has a blood oxygen concentration that sits between 75 and 100 millimeters of mercury (mmHg). People with a blood oxygen concentration of 60 mmHg or less are often prescribed oxygen therapy. Some patients require constant oxygen therapy during the day and night, while others receive therapy on a semi-frequent or as-needed basis, such as after workouts.

Oxygen Concentrators vs. CPAP, BiPAP, and APAP Machines

Like concentrators, CPAP machines deliver a continuous flow of oxygen to individuals at a fixed, prescribed rate. The air is purified in the central unit, and then delivered to a face mask or nasal tubes using a connective tube.

BiPAP machines utilize a similar mechanism, but rather than delivering continuous air at a fixed rate, these devices deliver oxygen at two rates, one for inhalation and a different setting for exhalation. This eases the breathing process. rate depending on the user’s breathing patterns.

APAP machines deliver air at variable rates, depending on the user’s breathing patterns. This is considered the most comfortable option. Some advanced CPAP and BiPAP machines provide APAP settings, as well.

The key difference between concentrators and CPAP/BiPAP/APAP machines is the type of air that is delivered to users. Concentrators deliver purified, concentrated oxygen that is beneficial for people with the conditions listed in the previous section. CPAP, BiPAP, and APAP machines, on the other hand, provide a stream of air that expands the throat muscles and keeps the airway clear.

For this reason, these machines are almost always prescribed for individuals with sleep apnea. They are not normally used to treat other diseases or conditions. However, individuals with certain medical conditions — such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and COPD — may use a concentrator and a CPAP, BiPAP, or APAP machine simultaneously.

For more information, please visit our CPAP Machine Reviews and BiPAP Machine Reviews pages.

Buying Considerations for Portable Oxygen Concentrator Shoppers

When shopping for a portable oxygen concentrator and comparing different brands and models, here are few considerations to keep in mind:

  • What is the price-point? All portable oxygen concentrators are relatively expensive. The baseline price for most is $2,000. However, some high-end models cost more than $4,000.
  • Is the concentrator available for rent? To offset the high cost of a new concentrator, some models may be leased at monthly rates. Rental rates vary by provider, but generally fall between $200 and $350 per month.
  • What are the dimensions of the concentrator? Portable concentrators are usually small and lightweight, but purchasers should measure the surface where they plan to keep the concentrator (such as a bedside table) to determine the most suitable concentrator height, width, depth, and weight. For taller models, setting them on the floor next to the bed may be the most suitable option.
  • How much air does the concentrator deliver in continuous flow? Although this varies by model, most portable concentrators deliver anywhere from 0.5 to 3 liters per minute in the continuous flow setting.
  • How much air does the concentrator deliver in pulse flow? This also varies by model. The majority of portable concentrators sold today deliver up to 6 LPM in the pulse flow setting, and some feature up to three additional pulse flow settings.
  • What is the oxygen purity? The majority of concentrators deliver oxygen with a purity that falls between 87% and 93%. In some cases, the purity will be displayed with a margin of error (i.e., 90% ± 3%).
  • How long will the concentrator deliver oxygen on battery power? Generally speaking, higher settings on continuous or pulse flow will drain the battery faster than lower settings. During continuous flow, the average concentrator will deliver oxygen for up to 6 hours on the highest setting, and up to 2 hours on the lowest setting. During pulse flow, concentrators usually deliver oxygen for 1.5 to 2 hours on the highest setting, and up to 9 hours on the lowest setting.
  • How many batteries can the concentrator hold? Concentrators will usually hold one or two batteries. Models that hold two batteries may be operable on one battery, but the operating time will be shorter.
  • How long does it take to recharge the batteries? Most concentrator batteries can be completely recharged within two to four hours, but some may require up to eight or nine hours.
  • How loud is the concentrator? Concentrators are usually somewhat noisy, but some models are louder than others — up to 65 decibels, in some cases. The lower the setting, the quieter the concentrator will be.
  • What is the maximum altitude at which the concentrator can travel? Portable concentrators are designed for air travel, and most can be transported at up to 10,000 to 14,000 feet.
  • Has the concentrator received FAA approval? The answer to this question should always be yes, but shoppers should double-check the specs to ensure their desired concentrator has been approved for air travel by the FAA.
  • What are the operating and storage temperatures? Due to their delicate nature, concentrators should only be operated and stored at certain temperatures. Both ranges should be included in the concentrator’s owner’s manual or on its online product page.
  • What are the operational and storage humidity ranges? Owners should not operate or store their concentrator in environments that fall outside the listed humidity ranges.
  • Is the concentrator covered under a product warranty? Most concentrators carry a product warranty of three to five years. Additionally, certain components of the concentrator — such as the molecular sieve and/or batteries — may be protected by a separate warranty of anywhere from one to five years in length.
  • Do you have a prescription? A prescription is required to legally purchase any portable oxygen concentrator. Please ask your physician for more information.
  • Do you need an oxygen concentrator? Most serious lung conditions will require some form of oxygen therapy, and a concentrator is usually more efficient and convenient than other therapy delivery systems. However, those with OSA/CSA may find that a CPAP or BiPAP machine is sufficient without supplemental oxygen therapy. Your doctor can provide additional details.

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