Tips for Using Oxygen Concentrators at High Altitudes

Many activities such as flying and traveling to high altitude locations are open to anyone using oxygen therapy. Many patients on oxygen therapy fear issues with their oxygen concentrator or a health problem as a result of thinner air. High altitudes do affect oxygen use. But, you can prepare for any high altitude travel with some simple tips and preparation.

tips for using oxygen concentrators at high altitude

Why is Altitude a Factor for Oxygen Concentrators?

As you ascend to higher altitudes, whether in an airplane or traveling in the mountains, the air becomes thinner. Thin air, especially if you are not prepared for it, can put a strain on someone managing a respiratory illness. The thinness of the air makes it difficult to breath, even for people who do not use oxygen therapy. Patients with COPD feel this change in air the most, so it’s important to know how to properly use and manage an oxygen concentrator before travelling to a different environment. Your oxygen concentrator must work harder to deliver enough oxygen to keep you comfortable and breathing normally.

Use Of Portable Oxygen Concentrator in High Altitudes

Fortunately, many portable oxygen concentrators are designed for high altitude use. You can find a portable oxygen concentrator that functions normally at altitudes of 10,000 feet above sea level. If you are planning a flight or travel to areas above sea level, or even planning a mountain hike, be sure your portable oxygen concentrator is designed for the journey.

Things You Should Remember Before Using Oxygen in High Altitudes

Even though you have packed a portable oxygen concentrator that works well at high altitudes, there are still some preparations you have to make to ensure you remain healthy on your trip. Make a checklist before you travel so you don’t run into any mishaps because of your respiratory illness while traveling at higher altitudes than usual. Here are some additional tips to help you feel the most prepared before traveling to a place with a higher altitude than you are used to.

Adjust the Machine

Changing altitude may require a flow adjustment. Your machine will most likely need to use a different setting than what you typically familiar with. However, do not try and guess the proper setting. Speak to your doctor about making the adjustment. Indicate if you are traveling by plane or will be traveling to a high altitude location such as Colorado. That will give the doctor a good idea of what your flow adjustment should be.

Communicate With the Doctor

Always let your doctor know about your travel plans, especially when traveling to higher altitudes. Letting them know before you go away is crucial so they can properly prepare you for the change in air that will occur. Not every trip is advisable based on your respiratory health. So, it’s important that your doctor know about any trips that will require high elevations. In most instances, your doctor can make oxygen therapy recommendations for your trip.

Use A Pulse Oximeter

If you are healthy enough for travel, then some precautions are always helpful. Monitor your respiratory health with a pulse oximeter. They measure your blood oxygen levels. Your doctor may recommend you bring one with you so that you can better manage your respiratory illness. Levels that are outside the healthy range let you know you may need medical attention. Pulse oximeters are simple to use without a doctor’s help. Most are small and lightweight for travel. 

Carry Extra Accessories

When you travel with oxygen therapy it’s always best to be prepared. Take along extra accessories you might need on your trip. Pack oxygen tubing and extra nasal cannulas in the event one breaks or leaks. For portable oxygen therapy, take your backup batteries so you always have power. Also be sure to pack your medical information in case of an emergency.

Which POC Is Best for High Altitudes?

Caire FreeStyle Comfort Portable Oxygen Concentrator

When selecting a portable oxygen concentrator for high altitude environments, choose one that works well at the highest levels about sea level to ensure performance wherever you travel.

The Caire FreeStyle Comfort Portable Oxygen Concentrator operates effectively at 10,000 feet, which makes it ideal for air travel and oxygen therapy in high altitude locations that are your destination.

Other portable oxygen concentrators designed for high altitudes include:

Which Stationary Oxygen Concentrator Is Best for High Altitudes?

 Inogen At Home Stationary Oxygen Concentrator

If you plan to move to a high altitude location, you may want to invest in a stationary home oxygen concentrator for everyday use. High altitudes can affect normal breathing and you may need consistent oxygen therapy performance in the new respiratory environment.  The Inogen One At Home offers effective oxygen therapy at 8000 feet of elevation.


Most medical supply stores offer oxygen concentrators for high altitude oxygen therapy. You can also search online for a new unit from the comfort of your own home. You can find oxygen concentrators at The Oxygen Concentrator Supplies Shop. Our knowledgeable staff is ready to answer any questions and help you make the best choice. Give us a call at 888-941-1688.