Types of Oxygen Therapy

There are three different types of systems used for oxygen therapy, including compressed oxygen cylinders, oxygen concentrators, and liquid oxygen systems. These are used to treat a variety of medical problems. The type of system needed depends on the amount of oxygen needed. Oxygen is a medical treatment that necessitates a prescription from a physician, who will provide information on the flow rate. If someone does not receive the right amount of oxygen, it may cause the brain and heart to starve, which may cause fatigue, memory loss, and cardiovascular changes.


Oxygen is normally provided via three types of oxygenation systems, and a nasal cannula is inserted into the nose via a two-pronged tube.


Oxygen therapy is a medical intervention for chronic and acute care and can be used for inpatient or outpatient care.

  1. Compressed Oxygen Cylinders

    • Oxygen is compressed into a metal cylinder and involves high pressure. Green tanks are normally large and can be delivered to the patient's home. Portable units are smaller and can be used for transportation. Portable tanks are returned to the provider when they are empty.

    Oxygen Concentrators

    • Some devices concentrate oxygen by removing gases and impurities from the air. This system is not portable and requires electricity. Portable tanks or a generator are necessary in case of a power failure.

      The oxygen concentrator system is used for patients who are normally on oxygen at night, but they can be used for longer time periods.

    Liquid Oxygen Systems

    • Liquid oxygen is produced by cooling oxygen gas and changes it into a liquid form.
      Liquid oxygen systems have a main tank and portable units are included, which can be used to travel outside of the home. These can be refilled from the larger tank. The portable units normally weigh 8 to 10 pounds and have a shoulder strap, cart or other carrying option for ease of use. The portable units should be filled prior to use. The drawback of this system is that it is often the most expensive oxygen therapy available.

    Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

    • Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy involves the use of a chamber in patient care and can be used for numerous medical issues, including neurological issues, disease, and many other health issues. The patient is placed inside the chamber where intermittent treatment is provided. The oxygen provided is for 100 percent oxygen above the atmospheric pressure.

      During this therapy, the patient is placed in an airtight chamber. Oxygen is circulated into the chamber starting at the beginning of the treatment. Because the air is breathed directly, there is no need for a mask or cannule.

      Hyperbaric treatment is thought to be similar to scuba diving, flying, or driving at a high altitude. There is a fullness in the patient's ears. When the door is closed, oxygen circulates and gradually increases.

      Toward the end of the oxygen treatment, a decrease in pressure called decompression occurs and the ears may pop.

    Oxygen Use Tips

    • Liquid oxygen can evaporate if not used frequently. Make sure that the flow meter is checked regularly to ensure that the oxygen tank is full. Also ensure that you have the right rate of flow on the tank for both the portable unit and the main oxygen cylinder to ensure that the right amount of oxygen is being provided.

    Oxygen Tank Safety

    • Oxygen tank safety should be taken seriously. A fire or explosion may occur if there is smoking, high temperature, or a fire near oxygen equipment. Oxygen is easily combustible, so no open flame or items that are combustible should be used near an oxygen tank. This includes cigarettes, electrical devices, petroleum jelly, oils, and aerosol sprays. If you have an oxygen tank in your home, be sure to have fire safety equipment in your home, such as smoke detectors and extinguishers.

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