Oxygen Concentrator is a medical device that assists people who have a low level of oxygen in their blood. They run on electrical outlet or by using a battery. For battery, it needs charges by plugging it into an electrical outlet. Most concentrators also come with an adapter so you can use the device while you drive.
An oxygen concentrator receives air, purifies it, and then yields fresh Oxygen. Before it goes into the concentrator, air is comprises of 80 percent nitrogen and 20 percent oxygen. An oxygen concentrator uses that air then it comes out as 90 to 95 percent pure oxygen and 5 to 10 percent nitrogen. The machine separates Nitrogen to give the patient the highest dose of oxygen possible, as it is difficult to get that percentage of oxygen without the help of a medical device.
How does an Oxygen Concentrator work ?
An oxygen concentrator works by filtering and concentrating oxygen molecules from the ambient air to provide patients with 90% to 95% pure oxygen. The compressor of the oxygen concentrator sucks ambient air and adjusts the pressure at which it is provided. The sieve bed made of a crystalline material called Zeolite separates the nitrogen from the air. A concentrator has two sieve beds that work to both release oxygen into a cylinder as well as discharge the separated nitrogen back into the air. This forms a continuous loop that keeps producing pure oxygen. The pressure valve helps regulate oxygen supply ranging from 5 to 10 liters per minute. The compressed oxygen is then goes to the patient through a nasal cannula (or oxygen mask).
Advantage of Portable Oxygen Concentrator
Both portable and home oxygen concentrators have numerous advantages for those patients need oxygen therapy. They are much less dangerous than traditional oxygen cylinders, which can, if ruptures or leaking, cause or increase the combustion rate of a fire. Oxygen concentrators, on the other hand, pose no such danger.
Home and portable oxygen concentrators that can “make” their own oxygen have become more popular and widely used than old-fashion oxygen tanks. The other main benefit is the ease and higher ability to be mobile with oxygen. Portable Oxygen Concentrator are light weight ( Around 2kg ) and one can carry it anywhere. It comes with optional battery, provides additional battery backup for hours. The machine also can run on Car Charger.
Will my body get dependent on Oxygen, if I use it continuously ?
No, Oxygen is not addictive at all. A large number of patients express their concern regarding this and try to decrease the time they are on Oxygen or totally avoid it.
Supplemental Oxygen is prescribed because the lungs have become weak due to condition like COPD and the 21% Oxygen of air is now not sufficient for lungs which results in low level of O2 in blood.
In order to make lungs feel like as if they are exactly in a normal healthy environment, they need some extra Oxygen so that the Oxygen exchange with blood is exactly same as it would have been with normal healthy lungs.
Can I use more Oxygen than Doctor's recomandation ?
No, using more than prescribed oxygen can cause Oxygen toxicity/Oxygen poisoning in the body which has many harmful effects like damage to eyes, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), alveolar damage, destruction of neurons , etc.
Is it alright if I use less Oxygen than Doctor's recomandation?
No, you should use Oxygen exactly as per physician’s guideline. Consuming less Oxygen can cause low levels of Oxygen in blood which can further cause poor memory, irritable mood, poor cognition, shortness of breath, headaches and much more.
Using lesser oxygen for longer periods of time also deteriorates lung’s health and causes the disease to grow.
How much Oxygen is ideal for me ?
Your physician decides the ideal amount of Oxygen for you; he does it by carefully analyzing your ABGs. In most cases, the goal is to keep your Oxygen levels above 88% which after prescription is monitored using Oximetry. In healthy individuals, ideal saturation of Oxygen in blood is 95-99%.
Do I also need to keep an Oxygen cylinder at home, if I use Oxygen Concentrator ?
It is wise to keep an Oxygen cylinder as a backup source.
After all, concentrator is a machine and any machine can fail anytime.
Oxygen Concentrator runs on electricity. So, if power supply stops, the machine won’t run.
Though Oxygen Concentrators can run on domestic inverters. Consult with your vendor for specifications.
Which is the best Oxygen Concentrator brand for me ?
All brands are good; the most important thing is that the Oxygen Concentrator you are planning to buy should carry some international approvals like FDA, CE & ISO.
The second most important thing is that the specifications should suit your requirement. The parameters you can consider to compare different models of different brands can be flow rate, battery backup, alarms (especially low purity of Oxygen), weight, power consumption and portability.
Can I use portable Oxygen Concentrator while sleeping ?
Yes, Portable Oxygen Concentrators (POC) can be used while sleeping. Note that POCs have 2 modes: Pulse mode and Continuous mode.
In Pulse mode, POCs will work as long as you breathe through nose and that too with sufficient pressure to trigger a breath in the machine. It is recommended to use POC with high sensitivity as during sleep the triggering pressure of each breath drops.
For sleep, continuous mode of Oxygen is ideal because while sleeping, there are chances that patient may not breathe through nose all the time which means if patient is breathing through open mouth then there are less chances of activating a pulse mode concentrator.
I feel, the Oxygen coming out of Oxygen Concentrator is less potent/effective than that of Oxygen Cylinder. Why it is so ?
There are two parameters to consider. One is called Flow Rate, measures in LPM (Litre Per Minute) and other one is Outlet Pressure, measures in PSI (pound per square inch) Both these parameters are crucial for a patient’s wellbeing & perception. The typical air pressure of a B Type domestic Oxygen Cylinder is much higher than that of a standard Oxygen Concentrator of 5LPM capacity (around 7 PSI outlet pressure). Few patients with specific ailment needs higher delivery pressure. Such patient complains about discomfort with standard 5LPM/7PSI Oxygen Concentrator. For them, 8LPM or 10LPM Oxygen Concentrator with higher Outlet pressure (around 20 PSI) is beneficial.
Remember, high pressure is not always good for every patient. And, most of the patients are comfortable with standard machine only. Consult with physician for the exact requirement of the patient.
When do I need to use Humidifier bottle ?
The purpose of humidification is to provide moisture which makes Oxygen therapy comfortable; Without a humidifier raw oxygen can cause dryness in airways of nose and throat. To avoid this discomfort, usually, use of humidifier makes the oxygen therapy comfortable in a continuous flow of more than 3 LPM.
Portable Oxygen Concentrator provides pulse flow only . In Pulse Flow, Oxygen releases outs only when patient inhales which doesn’t cause dryness unlike continuous flow of Oxygen, therefore, humidification is not necessary.
However, if your Portable Oxygen Concentrator has continuous flow option then you need to talk to your equipment provider.
What is the difference between Continuous Flow & Pulse Flow in Oxygen Concentrator ?
Oxygen concentrators are generally are of two categories: PULSE flow concentrators and CONTINEOUS flow concentrators. Continuous flow is similar to what you’d expect from an oxygen tank or liquid oxygen tank. These devices will put out oxygen in a constant stream and are usually measured in liters per minute (LPM). Pulse flow machines are more advanced and actually have the ability to measure your breathing rate. When you inhale, a pulse dose machine will put out a small dose of oxygen called a “bolus.”
One of the biggest benefits of pulse flow concentrators is that they are almost always smaller and lighter than their continuous flow counterparts. Portable oxygen concentrators are light enough to carry over your shoulder.
What kind of water should I use in Humidifier & how often should I clean it ?
It is recommended to use clean drinking water for humidifier as after all you are going to breathe through it. There is no hard and fast rule for cleaning but there is no harm in having good daily cleaning practices just by rinsing through fresh water and replacing the water in the bottle.
Should I use Nasal Canula or Oxygen Mask ?
Most people prefer nasal cannula as it doesn’t look medical but most cannulas have a limitation that they are effective for flows up to 6 Litres Per Minute (LPM). There are special cannulas for higher flow (High Flow Nasal Canula).
However, if you get rashes in your nostrils by use of cannula or if your flow requirement is above 6 LPM then a simple face mask is used by most people.
Can I use Oxygen Concentrator with CPAP or BiPAP machine ?
All the concentrators with continuous flow can work with PAP devices. All stationary/home concentrators have continuous flow but some portable models have just pulse flow mode. Pulse flow is not suited for use with PAP devices.
What kind of maintenance is required for Oxygen Concentrator ?
The device is as simple to manage as it looks. All that is required is that the coarse filter has to be washed each day and replace the other filters as per instructions of the company, which is usually at 6 months or 1500 hours of use. The filters may also need to be changed according to local conditions (dust, humidity) and the amount of use of the concentrator. Skilled mechanical maintenance is needed only yearly. There is a fourth filter, the bacterial filter, located before the oxygen outlet of the concentrator. Typically this must be changed every year, or more frequently, depending on the amount of use of the concentrator. The concentrator may work 24 hours a day, every day, as long as daily maintenance procedures are carried out.
Can I fly with Oxygen Concentrator in India ?
In US, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) oversees all safety regulations pertaining to medical oxygen machines and in-flight use. In India, Oxygen Concentrators, which are approved & certified by FAA, are allowed to carry along with the patient during fly.
Your vendor should provide you this certificate related to their product. Be sure to contact your airline at least 48 hours before your flight to let them know you will be carrying a concentrator. You need to apply to your carrier aviation company in a prescribed format to allow your patient to fly in their fleet with Oxygen Concentrator. You need to submit the FAA certificate of the machine that you would like to carry with. Based on the latest guideline and submitted documents, the carrier will issue an approval via EMAIL. You need to carry this during your travel.