Oxygen therapy is often provided to patients with interstitial lung disease (ILD) to improve breathlessness and quality of life. Lightweight, portable oxygen concentrators (POCs) provide an alternative to traditional portable systems such as compressed oxygen cylinders. However, their efficacy in patients with ILD has not been assessed.
Many times, people who are under home isolation also need oxygen support. While many opt for traditional oxygen cylinders, others go for oxygen concentrators in such cases.
The essential difference between a concentrator and a cylinder is how they provide oxygen. While oxygen cylinders have a fixed amount of oxygen compressed within them and need oxygen cylinder refilling, oxygen concentrators can provide an infinite supply of medical-grade oxygen if they continue to have power backup.
Oxygen Cylinder vs. Concentrator
You might be aware that both devices can deliver medical oxygen to those that require it. However, the methods of delivery for a stationary or portable oxygen concentrator vs. oxygen cylinder, as well as the device specifications, tend to differ quite a bit beyond that.
Therefore, whether you are looking at a stationary oxygen cylinder vs. a concentrator, whether you are interested in lightweight, portable oxygen cylinders or portable oxygen concentrators, it is helpful to know the differences between the two delivery systems so you can make an educated decision with your doctor. Your oxygen therapy delivery device should provide the supplemental oxygen you need and allow you to maintain the best quality of life possible.
The main difference between an oxygen concentrator and an oxygen cylinder is how oxygen is provided to you. Whether a larger compressed oxygen cylinder or a small portable oxygen cylinder with liquid oxygen, oxygen cylinders have a finite amount of oxygen within them, which the user inhales until it runs out. Oxygen concentrators, on the other hand, filter and concentrate the surrounding air, generating medical-grade oxygen. Unlike an oxygen cylinder, an oxygen concentrator can provide an infinite supply of oxygen if there is access to power or the battery that powers the machine remains charged. However, other details can make a significant difference when deciding whether you prefer an oxygen concentrator vs. a cylinder.
Oxygen cylinders can hold either compressed oxygen or liquid oxygen. They are available in large cylinders, generally for home use, or small portable oxygen cylinders for breathing outdoors or traveling. Whether stationary or portable, oxygen cylinders for breathing hold a specific amount of oxygen. That means all the oxygen a cylinder will have until it is refilled is already compressed. The oxygen supply within a cylinder is gradually reduced with use until the cylinder runs out and needs refilled or replaced.
- Oxygen cylinders are available in different sizes to make transporting them more accessible.
- Oxygen cylinders do not require power.
- Purchasing oxygen cylinders is less expensive upfront.
An oxygen concentrator does not need to store oxygen but instead uses the surrounding atmosphere to provide supplemental oxygen. So what is an oxygen concentrator? An oxygen concentrator works similarly to an air conditioning unit: it takes air from the surrounding atmosphere, modifies it, and delivers it to its new state. But instead of cooling the air, oxygen concentrators compress and purify the air, removing nitrogen or other agents that complicate breathing. The newly filtered and concentrated oxygen is then delivered to the patient via a nasal cannula in the desired flow setting to improve the user’s breathing.
- An oxygen concentrator can provide an endless supply of oxygen if it has power.
- An oxygen concentrator uses the surrounding air to produce supplemental oxygen, so it never needs to be refilled.
- Once purchased, the only additional costs are the occasional replacement part for your oxygen concentrator.