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Home Oxygen: Who Needs it and Why?

home o2, home oxygen therapyIf you’ve been evaluated by your physician and she’s determined you need home oxygen therapy, the Inogen At Home may be just what the doctor ordered. But who benefits most from home oxygen therapy and why choose the Inogen At Home? Let’s explore this further.

What is Oxygen?

Oxygen is a colorless, tasteless, odorless gas and without it, life would not be possible. The air we breathe contains 21% oxygen that when inhaled, flows through our nose to our windpipe and into our lungs. Once in the lungs it passes into the bloodstream where it is carried by red blood cells to all the tissues and organs of our body. Oxygen is needed for metabolism: the conversion of the food we eat into heat and energy.

Who Needs Oxygen Therapy and Why?

Some illnesses and conditions cause the heart and/or lungs to work incorrectly, which can lead to your body not getting the oxygen it needs. If your heart or lung function is impaired to such a degree that breathing regular room air isn’t enough to keep your body functioning properly, supplemental oxygen can be used to correct certain oxygen deficits. Generally speaking, folks with low oxygen levels benefit most from supplemental oxygen therapy. Accordingly, the American Thoracic Society recommends long-term oxygen therapy (LTOT) for people with the following results from an arterial blood gas study or from pulse oximetry:[1][2]

  • Patients with a resting partial pressure of oxygen (PaO2) (as measured by an arterial blood gas study) of < 55 mmHg, with an oxygen saturation level of < 88%.
  • Patients whose PaO2 is 55-59 mmHg, with a corresponding oxygen saturation level of 89%, who exhibit signs of tissue hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the body tissues), including those with pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs), cor pulmonale (right sided heart failure), polycythemia (increased red blood cell production), fluid retention from right heart failure, or impaired mental status.

Who Qualifies for Home Oxygen Therapy?

Supplemental oxygen is considered a prescription drug, so you will need a prescription to get it. In order to qualify for home oxygen, your doctor will need to assess that you have a medical need for supplemental oxygen. Arterial blood gas results and pulse oximetry results that indicate low blood oxygen levels, like those listed above, are one part of the qualification process, but there is more to it than just that. 

First, your doctor will need to document that you have been diagnosed with an illness or condition that qualifies you for medical oxygen. From there, you will need the arterial blood gas study or pulse oximetry test results indicating that your oxygen levels are too low.

After that, your doctor will be able to write you an oxygen prescription, which will provide the details about what kind of oxygen dosing you need, how often you will need to use supplemental oxygen and how long you will need to use it. Also remember to get a Certificate of Medical Necessity completed by your doctor, along with any other necessary forms for your oxygen provider or your insurance provider. If you are unsure of what you need, contact your oxygen provider for more information.

Your prescription information will help guide you when it is time to purchase your oxygen equipment. Some patients have a diagnosis with special oxygen equipment requirements, like the need for continuous dosing or an oxygen delivery device that is safe to use while sleeping. As such, it is important to make sure you review what you need to look for in oxygen equipment with your doctor. Ultimately, you will have several different options when it comes to oxygen delivery devices. 

How is Oxygen Therapy Supplied?

There are 3 common ways to obtain pure oxygen and store it for home use:

  • Liquid Oxygen – air is cooled and compressed until it becomes liquid oxygen. It’s then stored in thermos-type bottles known as reservoirs. There is usually a home base unit where the bulk of the liquid oxygen is stored and smaller tanks that can be used around the home and for travel.
  • Compressed Gas – oxygen is compressed and stored in heavy steel or aluminum pressurized oxygen tanks. It is then delivered to your home.
  • Oxygen Concentrator – regular room air is pumped through a fine filter inside a medical device called an oxygen concentrator. The concentrator converts normal air to almost pure oxygen by passing it through the filter and then it is inhaled by the user. This method is less expensive and easier to maintain.

Benefits of Oxygen Therapy

According to the American Lung Association, oxygen has many benefits including:[3]

  • Allows you to stay more active, improving mood and energy
  • Improves sleep quality and oxygen levels during sleep
  • Increases mental alertness and stamina
  • Allows for normal body functioning
  • Decreases shortness of breath
  • Improves ability to exercise for longer periods of time at higher intensities.[4]

In addition, oxygen therapy prolongs survival for some patients who use is at least 15 hours a day.[5]

Why Choose the Inogen At Home?

At only 18 pounds and 16.5 inches high, the Inogen At Home is one of the lightest, quietest, most energy-efficient 5 liter home oxygen concentrators on the market today. Compared to other home oxygen concentrators, the Inogen At Home is half the size and far more efficient. In fact, it can literally pay for itself in the long run by saving you money on your electricity bill.

Check out our energy savings calculator to see how much you can save by choosing a more energy efficient home oxygen concentrator like the Inogen At Home.


[1] Lareau, Suzanne C., and Bonnie Fahy. “Oxygen Therapy .” American Thoracic Society, American Thoracic Society, July 2020, www.thoracic.org/patients/patient-resources/resources/oxygen-therapy.pdf. 

[2] Rous, Rosa Güell. “(PDF) Long-Term Oxygen Therapy: Are We Prescribing Appropriately?” International Journal of COPD, ResearchGate, June 2008, www.researchgate.net/publication/23155609_Long-term_oxygen_therapy_Are_we_prescribing_appropriately. 

[3] “How Can Oxygen Help Me?” American Lung Association, American Lung Association, 21 July 2020, www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-procedures-and-tests/oxygen-therapy/how-can-oxygen-help-me. 

[4] Emtner, Margareta, et al. “Benefits of Supplemental Oxygen in Exercise Training in Nonhypoxemic Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patients.” American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Atsjournals.org, 2003, www.atsjournals.org/doi/full/10.1164/rccm.200212-1525OC. 

[5] Croxton, Thomas L, and William C Bailey. “Long-Term Oxygen Treatment in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Recommendations for Future Research.” American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, ResearchGate, Sept. 2006, www.researchgate.net/publication/7166585_Long-term_Oxygen_Treatment_in_Chronic_Obstructive_Pulmonary_Disease_Recommendations_for_Future_Research. 

 By Deborah Leader RN, BSN, PHN


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