The use of supplemental oxygen therapy will also quickly relieve symptoms of altitude sickness, especially headaches. It’s important to consume oxygen for the appropriate length of time to completely resolve and avoid continued symptoms. Sources of supplemental oxygen may be hard to locate depending on your location and may be reserved for the most severe occurrences of altitude sickness. However, suppliers are beginning to rent oxygen concentrators to vacationers visiting high altitude destinations such as ski resorts.
Supplemental oxygen therapy typically comes from medical grade portable oxygen tanks or oxygen concentrators. Medical grade portable oxygen tanks have limitations that oxygen concentrators don’t. Because they contain a finite amount of oxygen, medical grade portable oxygen tanks can’t be used for long periods of time, and they’re expensive to constantly refill. They’re extremely flammable, and cumbersome to move around. They also don’t provide humidified air, which can result in bloody noses for users.
Oxygen concentrators intake room air and concentrate the oxygen within to near medical levels. Because of the unending air supply they can be left on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (it’s recommended to always follow manufacturer guidelines). Typically oxygen concentrators come in 5 or 10 liters per minute (lpm) models. The 5 lpm machines can power a single nasal canula, while the 10 lpm machines can power a single non-rebreather mask or 2 nasal canulas via a Y-splitter, allowing two people to use it at the same time. Most oxygen concentrators come with bubble humidifiers which prevent dryness and bloody noses. There are no adverse side effects from the use of supplemental oxygen from an oxygen concentrator.