What is an Oxymizer Illustration

What is an Oxymizer: A Comprehensive Overview (2024)

by | Updated: Jun 12, 2024

An Oxymizer is a medical device integral to the field of oxygen therapy, designed to conserve oxygen and improve the efficiency of its delivery to patients.

Its function extends beyond that of a typical nasal cannula; it houses an advanced reservoir system that markedly enhances oxygen supply management.

Despite its critical role, the Oxymizer remains largely unknown to those outside healthcare circles.

This article aims to shed light on the Oxymizer, offering a comprehensive overview of its design, operation, and impact on medical practices, ultimately striving to increase understanding of this pivotal instrument in patient care.

What is an Oxymizer?

An Oxymizer is a medical device used to increase the efficiency of supplemental oxygen therapy. It uses a disposable reservoir cannula that stores up to 30 mL of oxygen during the patient’s exhalation phase. This conserves oxygen and delivers a higher concentration of oxygen to the patient while using less overall oxygen from the source.

Compatible with all continuous-flow oxygen sources, including compressed gas, concentrators, and liquid oxygen, the Oxymizer is a practical addition to many oxygen therapy setups.

Oxymizer nasal cannula illustration

How Does an Oxymizer Work?

An Oxymizer works by incorporating an oxygen reservoir positioned under the patient’s nose, which captures and stores excess oxygen between breaths. As a result, the patient receives a higher volume of oxygen during each inhalation, increasing oxygenation and improving overall efficiency.

In some cases, using an Oxymizer can result in an oxygen savings ratio of up to 4:1.

This innovative tool provides a cost-effective and convenient solution for patients who require continuous oxygen therapy, ensuring they receive the necessary oxygen support with a reduced burden on resources.

What is the Purpose of Using an Oxymizer?

An Oxymizer is a disposable reservoir cannula that functions as a simple and effective oxygen-conserving device.

Unlike other conserving devices, it operates without the need for electronics, batteries, switches, or flow controls, making it a convenient and reliable option for oxygen therapy patients.

The primary purpose of an Oxymizer is to provide improved oxygenation while reducing the flow rate required for adequate oxygen saturation. This is possible because of its unique design, which features a built-in reservoir that stores a higher concentration of oxygen during the exhalation phase of the breathing cycle.

When the patient inhales, the stored oxygen is delivered along with the regular flow, leading to increased oxygenation without the need for higher flow rates.

Compatible with all continuous-flow oxygen sources, including compressed gas, concentrators, and liquid oxygen, the Oxymizer offers a savings ratio of up to 4:1.

Oxymizer Types

There are primarily two types of Oxymizer devices, distinguished by their design:

  1. Oxymizer Cannula (or Mustache Style): This type of Oxymizer looks like a regular nasal cannula but with a larger, mustache-shaped piece that fits just below the user’s nose. This is the oxygen-conserving reservoir, and its position allows it to collect the oxygen that would typically be wasted during exhalation. Upon inhalation, this oxygen is then delivered back to the user.
  2. Oxymizer Pendant: The Oxymizer Pendant also uses a reservoir to conserve oxygen, but the design is different. The reservoir is located in a pendant-like device that hangs down, typically positioned near the user’s chest. The oxygen is delivered through a standard nasal cannula connected to the pendant. This design is favored by users seeking more discretion, as it can easily be concealed beneath clothing.

Both types of Oxymizers function in the same way and provide the same benefits. They are designed to conserve oxygen, improve efficiency, and extend the duration of oxygen supplies.

The choice between the two usually depends on individual preference regarding comfort and appearance.

Benefits of Using an Oxymizer

The Oxymizer is a valuable tool in the field of oxygen therapy with several benefits, including the following:

  • Improved Oxygen Efficiency: The Oxymizer conserves oxygen by capturing exhaled oxygen in its built-in reservoir and delivering it back on the subsequent inhalation. This feature means the user gets more oxygen per breath, thereby improving oxygen efficiency.
  • Longer Duration: Since the Oxymizer makes efficient use of oxygen, the supply lasts longer. This means patients can go for extended periods without needing to replace or refill their oxygen source.
  • Cost-Effective: The extended duration of oxygen supply means fewer replacements and refills, resulting in lower overall costs for oxygen therapy.
  • Comfort and Discretion: The Oxymizer resembles a regular nasal cannula, making it more comfortable and discreet to wear in public. This can greatly enhance the user’s comfort and self-confidence.
  • Compatibility: It can be used with most stationary and portable oxygen delivery systems, making it a flexible option for different scenarios, including daily activities or travel.
  • Patient Compliance: Due to its convenience and the benefits mentioned above, patients are often more compliant in using an Oxymizer consistently, contributing to better therapy outcomes.

Disadvantages of Using an Oxymizer

Despite the multitude of benefits the Oxymizer offers, it also comes with a few drawbacks that must be considered:

  • Higher Initial Cost: Although it reduces the long-term costs of oxygen therapy by conserving oxygen, the initial purchase price of an Oxymizer can be higher than that of a traditional oxygen delivery device.
  • Maintenance Requirements: Regular cleaning and replacement are necessary to ensure the Oxymizer functions properly, which can be inconvenient for some users.
  • Dependency on Proper Breathing: The effectiveness of the Oxymizer largely depends on the user’s breathing patterns. If the user breathes through their mouth or has inconsistent breathing patterns, the oxygen conservation benefits of the Oxymizer may be reduced.
  • Not Suitable for High Flow Rates: The Oxymizer is not ideal for patients who require high oxygen flow rates. It’s typically used for individuals who require a flow rate of 6 liters per minute or less.
  • Potential for Dryness and Irritation: As with other nasal delivery devices, some users may experience nasal dryness or irritation, especially with prolonged use.

Note: It is important for patients and healthcare providers to weigh these potential disadvantages against the benefits when considering the use of an Oxymizer. As with any medical device, what works well for one patient might not be as effective for another. The right choice will depend on individual needs, lifestyle, and medical conditions.

Oxymizer Flow Rate

The Oxymizer is an oxygen-conserving device that is designed to function optimally at lower flow rates, typically up to about 6 liters per minute (LPM).

It effectively boosts the amount of oxygen delivered to the user without the need for higher flow rates.

Oxymizer flow rate chart

As you can see, the oxygen flow requirements for an Oximizer are up to 75% less compared to a conventional nasal cannula.

Oxymizer vs. Nasal Cannula

Compared to a conventional nasal cannula, the Oxymizer boasts a savings ratio of up to 4:1, meaning it can significantly reduce the amount of oxygen flow required to achieve desired saturation levels.

For instance, if a patient requires a 2 LPM (liters per minute) setting with a conventional nasal cannula, the Oxymizer may allow for the flow rate to be reduced to 0.5 LPM, leading to an oxygen savings of 75%.

This efficiency is made possible due to the Oxymizer’s ability to store pure oxygen in its reservoir, which increases the concentration of oxygen inhaled by the patient.

As a result, it not only conserves oxygen but also helps maintain the target SpO2 (peripheral oxygen saturation) levels.

Moreover, the use of an Oxymizer can make portable oxygen tanks last longer, especially for patients relying on oxygen therapy at home.

By allowing for lower flow rates without compromising oxygenation, patients can experience greater convenience and a reduced need for frequent tank refills.

Summary: The Oxymizer presents a valuable alternative to a conventional nasal cannula by enabling oxygen conservation, maintaining adequate saturation levels, and providing compatibility with various oxygen sources.

Oxymizer Endurance and Comfort

The Oxymizer is a specialized oxygen cannula designed to provide high-flow oxygen therapy for extended periods. One of its key benefits is the improvement in endurance capacity during activities like cycling, especially for those with severe COPD.

The Oxymizer’s oxygen reservoir stores pure oxygen, increasing the concentration of inhaled oxygen and thereby enhancing the user’s performance during demanding physical activities.

In addition to its endurance-enhancing effects, the Oxymizer prioritizes user comfort.

Unlike oxygen masks, the Oxymizer allows patients to eat, drink, and talk without obstruction. This makes it a more convenient and user-friendly option for long-term oxygen therapy.

The tubing associated with the Oxymizer is designed with patient comfort in mind. The pendant model features a reservoir that can be worn underneath clothing, ensuring discretion and reducing any discomfort caused by traditional external tubing.

This design feature helps users feel more at ease and confident while using the Oxymizer.

Compatibility is another advantage of the Oxymizer, as it can be used with various oxygen sources, including compressed gas cylinders, concentrators, and liquid oxygen.

Additionally, the Oxymizer is disposable and does not require batteries for operation, making it a low-maintenance solution for patients.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation and Oxymizer Use

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a comprehensive program that aims to improve the quality of life for individuals with chronic lung diseases, such as COPD.

It often includes a combination of exercise training, education, and emotional support to help patients manage their condition effectively.

One crucial aspect of pulmonary rehabilitation for some patients is the use of supplemental oxygen therapy, which can alleviate symptoms of breathlessness and increase overall exercise capacity.

In a prospective cross-over study, 43 patients with severe COPD who were participating in pulmonary rehabilitation and required long-term oxygen therapy were included. The study compared the effects of the Oxymizer with a conventional nasal cannula.

The patients experienced improved oxygenation during exercise with the use of the Oxymizer, which can be particularly beneficial during pulmonary rehabilitation sessions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Oxymizer Cannula?

An Oxymizer cannula is a type of oxygen delivery device that conserves oxygen by leveraging a built-in reservoir system.

The device, worn in the nostrils like a regular nasal cannula, traps exhaled oxygen in the reservoir and delivers it back to the user during inhalation, enhancing oxygen therapy’s overall efficiency.

What is an Oxymizer Pendant?

An Oxymizer pendant is a variant of the Oxymizer device that also incorporates a reservoir system for oxygen conservation.

Unlike the cannula version, the pendant design allows the reservoir to hang down in a pendant-like fashion. This design can provide more comfort and discretion, as it can easily be concealed beneath clothing.

What is an Oxymizer Mustache?

The Oxymizer mustache refers to the Oxymizer nasal cannula’s appearance. The design, with its reservoir system attached to the cannula, looks somewhat like a mustache when worn, leading to this informal name.

What is the Maximum Liter Flow for an Oxymizer?

The Oxymizer is designed to function effectively at lower oxygen flow rates. Typically, the maximum flow rate for an Oxymizer is around 6 liters per minute (LPM).

It is important to remember that the flow rate prescribed for an Oxymizer will vary based on the user’s specific medical needs and should always be determined by a healthcare provider.

How Can an Oxymizer Benefit Someone with COPD?

An Oxymizer can help someone with COPD by providing sufficient oxygen saturation while allowing for lower flow rates.

This means that the patient can potentially conserve oxygen and save on costs while also experiencing increased mobility and comfort compared to using conventional oxygen delivery methods.

What is the Difference Between an Oxymizer Pendant and a Regular Nasal Cannula?

The Oxymizer pendant features an oxygen reservoir that is designed to store oxygen, enabling it to deliver a higher concentration of oxygen.

This facilitates lower flow rates without compromising oxygen saturation, which may not be possible with a regular nasal cannula. Thus, the Oxymizer pendant is a more efficient and effective option for supplemental oxygen therapy.

Does an Oxymizer Require Humidification?

While it may depend on individual patient preferences and needs, an Oxymizer typically does not require humidification as it uses a non-mechanical pulse dosing method for oxygen delivery.

However, it is always advised to consult a healthcare professional for specific recommendations based on one’s unique situation.

Where to Buy an Oxymizer?

Oxymizers can typically be purchased from a variety of sources, including medical supply stores, online marketplaces like Amazon, and directly from the manufacturer’s website.

However, it’s recommended to consult with a healthcare provider or a respiratory therapist before purchasing to ensure the Oxymizer is suitable for your specific medical needs and to help determine the appropriate flow rate.

Final Thoughts

The Oxymizer, with its innovative design and oxygen-conserving capabilities, plays a pivotal role in managing respiratory conditions.

While it offers significant advantages such as improved oxygen efficiency, increased mobility, comfort, and long-term cost-effectiveness, it also has certain drawbacks, including higher initial cost, maintenance requirements, and limitations for high oxygen flow rates.

As with any medical device, the suitability of the Oxymizer will depend on individual patient needs and specific medical conditions.

Therefore, it is crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of the Oxymizer to make informed decisions about its use in oxygen therapy.

John Landry, BS, RRT

Written by:

John Landry, BS, RRT

John Landry is a registered respiratory therapist from Memphis, TN, and has a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. He enjoys using evidence-based research to help others breathe easier and live a healthier life.


  • Gloeckl R, Heinzelmann I, Matthaei M, Seeberg S, Damisch T, Jerrentrup A, Kenn K. Benefits of an oxygen reservoir cannula versus a conventional nasal cannula during exercise in hypoxemic COPD patients: a crossover trial. Respiration. 2014
  • “Oxymizer.” Drive Devilbiss International, www.drivedevilbiss-int.com/products/respiratory/oxygen-therapy/242/oxymizer.
  • “Oxymizer® Disposable Oxygen Conserver.” Drive Medical.
  • Revadmin. “Oxymizer Pendant and It’s Features and Basic Principles:” Pro Remarks, June 2021,
  • Gloeckl, Rainer. “Benefits of a Reservoir Nasal Cannula (Oxymizer) Versus a Conventional Nasal Cannula During Exercise in Hypoxemic COPD Patients.” European Respiratory Society, 1 Sept. 2014, erj.ersjournals.com/content/44/Suppl_58/3493.

Recommended Reading