For many, oxygen therapy is a vital component to getting through each day. Whether a person suffers from low levels of oxygen in the blood or is grappling with a chronic respiratory disease, oxygen therapy gives relief and hope to people who would otherwise suffer from shortness of breath, heart strain, lack of energy and general discomfort.
Some common applications for oxygen therapy include:
- Hypoexima: Any condition that prevents the blood from getting enough oxygen can be said to cause hypoexima. This is a common cause for home oxygen therapy as it is the most direct and effective method of treatment.
- COPD: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the name for a group of lung diseases that prohibit the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the lungs. This can include diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, both of which make the heart pump harder in order to distribute oxygen to the rest of the body.
- Interstitial Lung Disease: When a condition causes scarring in the longs, it is said to have contributed to interstitial lung disease. Though oxygen therapy cannot reverse scarring in the lungs, it can make it easier for the patient to breath.
For these conditions, oxygen therapy can provide a number of benefits:
- Facilitates breathing.
- Introduces more oxygen to the lungs.
- Enables exercise and other activities.
- Eases sleeping disorders caused by breathing issues.
- Improves heart function.
- Helps to prevent pulmonary hypertension.
- Relief from depression.
- Enables clearer thinking.
- Replaces carbon monoxide in the blood.
- Inhibits bacteria growth in damaged cells.
Whether oxygen is used 12 hours or 24 hours per day, a constant, reliable supply of oxygen is at the cornerstone of effective oxygen therapy plan.
Decades ago, the oxygen cylinder was the “go-to” solution for portable oxygen therapy. At the time, it was a huge step toward an improved quality of life for those living with oxygen therapy, because it allowed people to leave healthcare facilities and their homes to lead a more active and normal life. This created a greater sense of independence for oxygen therapy patients and opened the market up for improvements to the field. Recently, a company named Invacare released its latest oxygen concentrator development named the SOLO2 Transportable Oxygen Concentrator. This portable oxygen therapy device may revolutionize in-home oxygen therapy. Many may question which is better? Traditional oxygen tanks or the new SOLO2 Portable Oxygen Concentrator? In considering this question, there are many things to consider, such as:
- Ease of Use
A general analysis of the traditional oxygen tank and the SOLO2 using the criteria above is contrasted below:
Traditional Oxygen Tanks
Size: The traditional oxygen tank is made from aluminum or a similar lightweight, and sits upright in a small metal dolly that is made specifically for that purpose, or carried in a shoulder bag. The tanks are full of concentrated oxygen and require the use of an oxygen regulator, which is a separate piece, as well. This is set to monitor the flow of oxygen, which is then supplied to the user through small nasal tubes or similar means.
Ease of Use: The traditional oxygen tank is generally easy to use. One only needs to be strong and nimble enough to replace tanks and set the regulator to the appropriate airflow.
Convenience: The traditional oxygen tank is relatively inconvenient. It requires multiple parts to use and transport, and the size and shape of the tank can make it cumbersome for travel. Likewise, many airlines will not allow oxygen tanks without prior preparatory measures, if at all. This is due in part to their explosive properties. Doctor’s notes are almost always advised, and some countries may also require the assistance of consulates in order to facilitate smooth travel. If traveling for long periods of time, pre-orders, automatic shipping or similar arrangements may also be required to ensure that the supply of oxygen is not interrupted.
Effectiveness: The traditional oxygen tank is effective at a basic level because it supplies a regulated stream of oxygen. However, in some cases, small puffs of oxygen are all that is needed rather than continuous streams, so that treatments may not be optimized or oxygen may simply be wasted.
Cost: The traditional oxygen tank is one of the lowest cost methods of oxygen treatment for its level of effectiveness.
SOLO2 Portable Oxygen Concentrator Size: The SOLO2 is the made of heavy duty plastic and about the size of a carry-on suitcase. It has compact plastic wheels that make it easy to maneuver and tuck away when transporting.
Ease of Use: The Invacare SOLO2 features a push-button digital display that is simple to operate. Users can adjust the flow of oxygen within a five-setting range, and can either opt for a continuous flow or a pulse dose, all with the push of a button.
Convenience: The SOLO2 has a light, compact, unobtrusive shape that easily travels to any location, from down the street to down under. Since the unit does not carry an oxygen tank, it is expected to gain approval from the Federal Aviation Agency as an air transportable oxygen concentrator, as similar models before it have done. Likewise, the lack of an oxygen tank means that extra ordering or shipping arrangements don’t need to be arranged for extended trips. The battery operation also offers the convenience of wireless operation for completely uninterrupted use, regardless of environmental conditions.
Effectiveness: The SOLO2 is effective for a wide variety of oxygen therapy applications. With its accurate flow settings and optional pulse mode, it gives the right amount of oxygen in a continuous or pulse stream, depending on the health care provider’s indications.
Cost: With its optimum design and self-sufficient operation, this unit can cost several thousand dollars. However, its one-time cost and lack of extra ordering, shipping and material costs can position it as a sound investment over time.
Oxygen therapy is only as good as the materials and equipment used to administer it. Keep these points in mind when trying to decide which oxygen therapy provider you should use during your treatment.
Merck Online Medical Library – Oxygen Therapy
Livestrong – What Are the Benefits of Oxygen Therapy?