Many people assume that when receiving oxygen therapy, you may be restricted to your home or even the hospital. Some patients who suffer from breathing issues or from a COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) have in the past lugged around oxygen tanks on wheels around, sadly these aren’t very efficient due to wastage (due to continuous flow delivery options and leakage in the tanks itself) thus limiting these patients to a certain distance. However, this changed when portable oxygen concentrators came to be.
What a portable oxygen concentrator does is utilize the air around you to concentrate the air, remove nitrogen to deliver it straight to your nostrils via a nasal cannula. That’s why many people who previously were restricted have now found freedom to breathe easy and make arrangement for travel. Nevertheless, you must be cautious, because if you rely on oxygen therapy, it would become hazardous if proper preparations were not taken to account for various life situations. Keep reading for travel tips when using portable oxygen concentrators while you travel various modes of transport.
General Travel Tips
- Always confer with your doctor about your desire to travel. He or she will decide whether you are ready and fit enough for travel and whether your oxygen prescription will need to be adjusted.
- If you are utilizing oxygen cylinders, make sure that it is always positioned upright and is secured into a device such as a wall chain, trolley or a base of some kind.
- If you are utilising portable oxygen concentrator (which will run on batteries) make sure they are fully charged (to accommodate the duration of journey where you will not have plugged in power). Inogen’s double cell battery offers 8-9 hours of battery power. However, in the event that too is insufficient, acquiring or hiring an extra battery would be an ideal solution (in terms of contingencies).
- When you are travelling overseas, be wary that many countries have different types of power outlets and arrange to have the correct type of power adapter with you to avoid a difficult situation.
Tips when Travelling by Car
- As your portable oxygen concentrator requires the air around you, when travelling by car make sure to either open a window or leave the vent on when using the air conditioning so you are not using concentrated air build-up.
- Cylinders must be secured properly (oxygen is extremely flammable therefore proper caution must be taken).
Tips when Travelling by Train
- You should inquire with the train company whether they allow you to travel with oxygen, as well as whether power is available to recharge the batteries of your portable oxygen concentrators.
- Certain train companies will require you to notify them beforehand, and service international train services will require a note from your doctor with your oxygen prescription too
- Certain train companies will have restrictions in terms of oxygen cylinders, therefore, once more, call ahead
Tips When Travelling by Air
- Over 45 major airlines allow oxygen therapy (via portable oxygen concentrators) on airlines, however call ahead just to be safe. Domestic and international flights may have restriction against oxygen cylinders.
- Your doctor may request a special test – HAST (High Altitude Simulation Test) to ensure your safety at high altitudes
Tips When Travelling on a Cruise
- Most major cruise lines allow oxygen therapy, but it is always advised to check in advance what they are able to provide you.