People with low amounts of oxygen in their blood can use an oxygen concentrator. An oxygen concentrator helps people get the oxygen they need by pulling it from the air around them.
Since April 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic has spread quickly worldwide. The huge rise in cases has strained the country’s health care system. Many COVID-19 patients need oxygen therapy right away to stay alive. But because of a huge increase in demand, medical oxygen and oxygen cylinders are hard to find everywhere. Since oxygen cylinders are hard to find, the need for oxygen concentrators has also gone up.
Right now, oxygen concentrators are one of the most popular home oxygen therapy devices. But few people know what oxygen concentrators are, how to use them, or which one is best for them. All of these questions are answered in detail below.
An oxygen concentrator is a medical device that helps people who have trouble breathing get more oxygen. The device comprises a compressor, a sieve bed filter, an oxygen tank, a pressure valve, and a nasal cannula (or oxygen mask). A concentrator gives oxygen to a patient through a mask or nasal tubes, just like an oxygen cylinder or tank does. On the other hand, a concentrator doesn’t need to be refilled like oxygen cylinders do and can provide oxygen 24 hours a day. A typical oxygen concentrator can give out between 5 and 10 LPM pure oxygen.
How does a concentrator of oxygen work?
An oxygen concentrator takes oxygen molecules from the air around it and filters. It concentrates them so patients can get 90 to 95% pure oxygen. The oxygen concentrator’s compressor takes air from the room and changes the pressure it is given. The Zeolite crystalline material makes up the sieve bed that separates the nitrogen from the air. A concentrator has two sieve beds that combine to let oxygen into a cylinder and send the separated nitrogen back into the air. This makes a loop that keeps turning out pure oxygen. The pressure valve helps control the flow of oxygen, which can be anywhere between 5 and 10 litres per minute. A nasal cannula is then used to give the patient the oxygen that has been compressed.
When and for whom should an oxygen concentrator be used?
Pulmonologists say that an oxygen concentrator should only be used by people with mild to moderate illnesses whose oxygen saturation levels are between 90% and 94%. Patients with oxygen saturation levels as low as 85% can also use oxygen concentrators in an emergency or while waiting to be admitted to the hospital. But it is suggested that these patients switch to a cylinder with more oxygen flow and go to the hospital as soon as possible. Patients in the ICU should not use the device.
What kinds of oxygen concentrators are there?
Oxygen concentrators come in two types:
- Continuous flow: Unless turned off, this type of oxygen concentrator gives out the same amount of oxygen every minute, whether the patient is breathing it in or not.
- Pulse dose: These concentrators are smart because they can figure out how the patient breathes and give them oxygen when breathing. Pulse dose concentrators change how much oxygen they give off every minute.
What are the differences between oxygen cylinders, oxygen concentrators, and LMO?
Oxygen concentrators are the best replacement for medical oxygen cylinders and liquid oxygen, which are hard to store and move. Concentrators cost more than cylinders, but they are mostly a one-time purchase and have low running costs. In addition, concentrators don’t need to be refilled as cylinders do; they can keep making oxygen 24 hours a day using only the air around them and electricity. The biggest problem with concentrators is that they can only give out 5–10 litres of oxygen per minute. Because of this, they are not good for very sick people who may need 40 to 45 litres of pure oxygen per minute.
What do I need to know about concentrators for oxygen?
Oxygen concentrators take air from the room and filter out nitrogen. The process gives oxygen therapy the higher amounts of oxygen it needs.
Concentrators can be big and stay in one place, or they can be small and move around. Concentrators are different from tanks and other containers that hold oxygen because they use electrical pumps to concentrate the oxygen in the air around them.
You may have seen online that you can buy oxygen concentrators without a prescription. However, the FDA has not approved or permitted any oxygen concentrators to be sold or used without a prescription.
Using an oxygen concentrator means:
- Do not use the concentrator or any other oxygen product near an open flame or while smoking.
- Place the concentrator in an open area to lower the chance it will break because it gets too hot.
- Do not block any of the concentrator’s vents, as this could affect how well it works.
- Check your device frequently to see if it is going off to ensure you get enough oxygen.
If you have long-term health problems that require you to use an oxygen concentrator and notice changes in your breathing or oxygen levels, or if you have signs of COVID-19, call your doctor. Do not try to change the amount of oxygen on your own.