at-home oxygen therapy : oxygen concentrator and pulse oximeter

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In order to sustain life, our lungs play a crucial role in delivering oxygen to the cells throughout our bodies. The level of oxygen saturation in our blood, known as SPO2, indicates the percentage of the maximum oxygen capacity our blood carries.

For individuals in good health, the optimal range for SPO2 levels falls between 96 to 99 per cent. However, specific circumstances and health conditions can lead to oxygen levels dropping below the ideal range. Some of these factors include:

  • Congenital heart conditions
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Asthma
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Obesity-induced low oxygen levels
  • Prolonged stays at high altitudes
  • Certain neurological disorders like Parkinson’s Disease cause insufficient blood oxygen levels
  • Infections like the flu
  • COVID-19

When SPO2 levels decline, it can result in various problems, such as difficulty breathing, persistent coughing, memory issues, and chronic fatigue. In such cases, supplemental oxygen therapy becomes necessary.

Oxygen therapy is not restricted to medical facilities like hospitals or clinics. It can also be administered at home using a pulse oximeter and an oxygen concentrator.

A pulse oximeter gauges the oxygen levels in your blood. In contrast, an oxygen concentrator ensures the delivery of the required amount of oxygen, adjusted according to the user’s needs and breathing patterns.

what do you need to know about oxygen concentrators?

An oxygen concentrator functions as a device that supplies additional oxygen to individuals grappling with respiratory difficulties. It works by extracting and concentrating oxygen molecules from the surrounding air. This process involves drawing in air, segregating nitrogen, particulates, and other contaminants, and dispensing refined air. While the incoming air typically contains 80 per cent nitrogen and 20 per cent oxygen, the outgoing air is nearly 90-95 per cent pure oxygen and 5-10 per cent nitrogen.

A domestic oxygen concentrator comprises a compressor, sieve bed filters, pressure valves, and a nasal cannula (oxygen mask). Despite its compact size, akin to a lunchbox, this device serves an essential purpose.

A home oxygen concentrator is advisable for patients with mild to moderate oxygen deficiencies ranging between 90-94 per cent. However, such usage should strictly adhere to medical supervision.

Individuals in a critical state can temporarily utilize an oxygen concentrator until they reach a medical facility. At this point, they might transition to an oxygen cylinder capable of delivering higher oxygen flow rates.

Portable oxygen concentrators offer two distinct settings:

  • Pulse dose: This variant of the home oxygen concentrator discerns the patient’s breathing patterns and dispenses oxygen upon detecting inhalation. In essence, it administers oxygen with every breath taken. When the breathing rate escalates, the concentrator reacts automatically, supplying an appropriate burst of oxygen.
  • Continuous flow: This version of the home oxygen concentrator represents the conventional approach to oxygen delivery, providing a consistent stream of oxygen to the patient regardless of their respiratory rhythm.

how to monitor oxygen levels at home?

If you’re dealing with a lung or heart condition, you might need to regularly check your SPO2 levels in the comfort of your home. This practice is called pulse oximetry and is also recommended for individuals diagnosed with new respiratory illnesses like COVID-19.

Pulse oximetry entails a straightforward, painless procedure that involves no invasive measures. It aims to determine whether your blood is adequately oxygenated and whether supplementary oxygen is required.

In some cases, particularly in mild instances, individuals might not be aware if their oxygen levels need a boost. This is where a pulse oximeter becomes invaluable, offering insights into the status of your blood oxygen levels.

what do you need to know about pulse oximeters?

A pulse oximeter is a compact handheld device designed to estimate your oxygen levels by assessing your SPO2 levels. This oxygen monitoring device is equipped with an integrated electronic processor and two light-emitting diodes – one red and the other infrared – emitting light at distinct wavelengths. Placed on the tip of your index finger, it emits light through the blood in your finger, gauging variations in light absorption between oxygenated and deoxygenated blood.

The device generates readings that provide an approximation of your blood oxygen levels. These readings can be interpreted as follows:

  • Reading within the 96-100 per cent range is typically considered optimal for most individuals.
  • Readings below 95 per cent are viewed as low and necessitate discussion with your medical professional. However, these ranges might not apply to those afflicted with lung conditions such as COPD. In such cases, readings often hover between 88-92 per cent.
  • A reading below 92 per cent is categorized as abnormal and requires immediate attention.

how to select an oxygen concentrator and pulse oximeter?

We are Portea, a provider of comprehensive healthcare services. Our offerings encompass home care nursing, doctor consultations, in-home physiotherapy, and caregiver services. These services are designed to cater to various medical needs, ensuring that patients receive expert care and support in the comfort of their homes. We also offer Oxygen concentrators as well as pulse oxymeters for rent as well as offer purchase options.

When selecting the appropriate equipment for home healthcare, such as oxygen-related devices, informed decision-making is paramount. To aid in this process, we present a breakdown of information about these essential tools:


  • Prioritize the quality of the pulse oximeter or oxygen level check machine. Accurate readings are crucial to gauge your health accurately. Trusted brands like Contec offer reliable devices with proper certifications.
  • Opt for models with clear and bright display panels for easy readability.
  • A durable and water-resistant pulse oximeter is ideal for long-term use.
  • Compare features and prices, which typically range from INR 1000 to 4000.


  • Always follow your doctor’s prescription when choosing an oxygen concentrator for home use. They will recommend the most suitable device based on your specific requirements.
  • Consider the flow rate of the portable oxygen concentrator. It dictates how quickly oxygen is delivered from the machine to the patient. Selecting a device with a higher flow rate than your prescribed amount is advisable to ensure safety during emergencies.
  • Noise levels matter, especially for noise-sensitive individuals. Look for devices that operate quietly.
  • Invest in accessories of good quality to minimize the need for frequent replacements.
  • The warranty period of the oxygen concentrator is a significant factor to consider. A more extended warranty provides both peace of mind and value for your investment.

In both cases, making informed decisions ensures you acquire devices that effectively meet your medical needs.


1. What devices can be used for oxygen therapy at home?

Several devices can be used for oxygen therapy at home to provide supplemental oxygen to individuals who require it. Some of these devices include:

  • Oxygen Concentrator: This is a standard device used for home oxygen therapy. It takes in room air, removes nitrogen, and delivers concentrated oxygen to the patient. Oxygen concentrators are designed for long-term use and come in various sizes and flow rates to meet different needs.
  • Portable Oxygen Concentrator: Similar to a standard oxygen concentrator, this device is designed to be more compact and lightweight, allowing patients to be mobile while receiving oxygen therapy.
  • Oxygen Cylinder: These are portable tanks filled with compressed oxygen. They are suitable for short-term use or as a backup option.
  • Oxygen Conserving Devices: These devices optimize oxygen delivery by releasing oxygen only during inhalation, conserving oxygen and extending the life of oxygen cylinders or concentrator usage.
  • Liquid Oxygen System: Liquid oxygen is stored in a container and can be converted to gas for inhalation. It provides higher volumes of oxygen in a smaller container than compressed gas.
  • Nasal Cannula: A nasal cannula is a two-pronged device that delivers oxygen from an oxygen source (concentrator or cylinder) to the patient’s nostrils.
  • Oxygen Masks: Masks cover the nose and mouth, delivering oxygen directly to the patient’s airways. They are helpful for patients who require higher oxygen flow rates.
  • Ventilators and BiPAP Machines: In some cases, patients with severe respiratory conditions may require mechanical ventilation or positive airway pressure devices like BiPAP (Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure) machines to assist with breathing and oxygen delivery.

It’s essential to consult a healthcare professional before selecting an oxygen therapy device for home use. The choice of device will depend on the patient’s medical condition, oxygen requirements, and mobility needs.

2. Can we sleep with an oxygen concentrator?

Yes, sleeping with a portable oxygen concentrator is possible and beneficial for health and well-being. Many individuals using an oxygen concentrator while sleeping have reported positive impacts.

3. Which is the best finger for an oximeter?

For optimal results, the middle finger of your right hand is considered the best choice when using a pulse oximeter. It’s advised to remove nail polish and ensure your fingers aren’t cold, as cold fingers might affect the accuracy of readings. Studies suggest that the middle finger on your right hand tends to yield the most accurate and consistent readings for pulse oximetry.

4. What are the symptoms of low oxygen levels?

Hypoxia, characterized by insufficient oxygen levels in body tissues, manifests through symptoms including confusion, restlessness, laboured breathing, rapid heart rate, and bluish skin. Individuals with chronic heart and lung conditions are particularly susceptible. It’s crucial to note that hypoxia can escalate to life-threatening levels, necessitating prompt attention and intervention.

5. Does an oxygen concentrator produce 100% oxygen?

An oxygen concentrator extracts ambient air, removes nitrogen, and delivers the concentrated oxygen through a nozzle. However, these devices typically provide around 90 to 95 per cent pure oxygen, not 100 per cent.

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