An oxygen concentrator is a device that concentrates the oxygen from a gas supply (typically ambient air) by selectively removing nitrogen to supply an oxygen-enriched product gas stream.
Individuals whose oxygen concentration in their blood is lower than normal often require an oxygen concentrator to replace that oxygen.
A doctor must prescribe it after they’ve completed a thorough medical evaluation. The doctors will also typically show the patients how to effectively use these concentrators while travelling and in their home.
It’s also equipped with special filters and sieve beds which help remove Nitrogen from the air to ensure delivery of completely purified oxygen to the patient. These devices also come with an electronic user interface so you can adjust the levels of oxygen concentration and delivery settings. You then inhale the oxygen through the nasal cannula or special mask.
You generally measure the oxygen concentrator output in LPM (litres per minute). Your doctor will determine what level of oxygen you need, which may vary at rest, during sleep, and when you exercise.
Need for an Oxygen Concentrator
Depends on the requirement by the body, doctor may recommend short-term or long-term oxygen therapy.
Acute Conditions Requiring an Oxygen Concentrator
- Asthma: This condition is where your airways become inflamed and begin producing a lot of mucus, which makes it harder to breathe.
- Pneumonia: Pneumonia is an infection where you develop inflammation in either one or both of your lungs’ air sacs and often, fill them up with fluid.
- Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS): RDS is a breathing disorder mostly affecting new-borns, particularly those who are born six or more weeks before their delivery date.
- Broncho-pulmonary dysplasia (BPD): New-borns suffering from RDS also have a higher risk of developing BPD.
Chronic Diseases that Require Oxygen Therapy
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): When you have COPD, you have chronic lung damage which makes it difficult for your lungs to absorb enough oxygen.
- Cystic fibrosis: It causes digestive system and lung damage.
- Sleep Apnea: Sleep Apnea is a sleeping disorder that can be serious and cause the individual’s breathing to sporadically stop and start during their sleep.
How to Use and Maintain your Oxygen Concentrator
- The first step in good maintenance is making sure the unit is placed in a well-ventilated space with roughly 6 feet of space around it to pull air and vent exhaust properly. This means that a closet, bathroom or small corner are NOT good locations. The unit needs about 8 inches – 12 inches of space around it.
- It is likely that your Oxygen Concentrator is going to collect dirt, dust and come in contact with substances that could make them sticky, so it is essential to keep the outer unit itself clean and in a clean environment.
- Make sure the unit is run at least 10 hours per month (these do not have to be 10 consecutive hours). Running a unit ensures that the lubricants continue to move and the sieve bed does not harden. (The sieve beds filter the nitrogen and other trace gases from the air to create medical grade oxygen)
- Oxygen concentrators are made in such a way that they can run for 24 hours. But at times, they face the problem of heating up and stopping abruptly. Therefore, after continuous usage of 7-8 hours, the concentrator should be given a rest of 20-30 minutes. After 20-30 minutes the patient can turn the concentrator on and use it for another 7-8 hours before giving it a rest of 20-30 minutes again. When the machine is switched off, then the patient can use the standby cylinder. This will improve the life of the compressor of concentrator.
- In some machines there is a cabinet/external filter outside that can be taken out easily. This filter should be cleaned once in a week (or more frequently depending upon operating conditions) with soap water. Note that it should be dried completely before putting it back in the machine.
- In many countries, people face problem of Voltage Fluctuation, this problem can be a killer for not only the oxygen concentrator but any other household electrical equipment. After a power cut the power comes back with such high voltage that it can affect the compressor. This problem can be solved by using a good quality voltage stabilizer which can also improve the life of the Oxygen Concentrator. It is not mandatory to use a voltage stabilizer but it is recommended.
Steps for Cleaning your Oxygen Concentrator
- First Unplug the device for power source use mild soap and warm water to clean the outer surface of the machine.
- Filters has to be cleaned every month, after you turn off the device, remove the filter(check for the user guide to locate the filter) and dip it in a bowl with warm water and mild solution to remove any dirt and dust. Rinse it underwater to remove all the soap and air dry.
- Nasal cannula must be changed every 3-6 months depending on how often you use the device, check for any cracks or deterioration or colour change.
- Humidifier bottle to be replaced if any leaks are found. Clean drinking water can be used in the bottle. The bottle has to be cleaned on a daily basis and water in the bottle should be replaced every day.