Do you or a loved one suffer from a chronic respiratory condition like COPD or asthma? An oxygen concentrator can provide supplemental oxygen to improve breathing and quality of life. This guide will give an overview of oxygen concentrators, their benefits, and what to look for when selecting one.
What is an Oxygen Concentrator?
An oxygen concentrator is a medical device that extracts oxygen from room air and delivers purified, concentrated oxygen through a nasal cannula (plastic tubing with prongs that fit in your nostrils).
Oxygen concentrators use a molecular sieve to absorb nitrogen from the air, leaving behind oxygen molecules, which are then delivered for you to breathe. This eliminates heavy oxygen tanks and makes oxygen therapy convenient and portable.
Benefits of Oxygen Concentrators
Oxygen concentrators offer several advantages over traditional oxygen therapy methods:
Oxygen concentrators are small, lightweight, and easy to move around your home or take with you when leaving the house. Tanks of compressed oxygen are heavy in comparison.
You’ll save money over the long run since you don’t need to refill disposable oxygen tanks constantly. Electricity is the only operating cost for an oxygen concentrator.
There’s no need to worry about handling hazardous compressed gas cylinders. Oxygen concentrators produce oxygen on demand from the air, so it’s always fresh.
Adjustable Flow Rates
Most oxygen concentrators allow you to adjust the flow rate to suit your oxygen needs, even as they change. Flow rates range from 1-5 litres per minute.
Oxygen concentrators produce an unlimited supply of oxygen. You’ll always have enough as long as the device has power.
What to Look For in an Oxygen Concentrator
If you and your doctor determine that supplemental oxygen could help your condition, here are vital factors to consider when selecting an oxygen concentrator:
Oxygen Purity Levels
The oxygen purity produced should be at least 90-95%. This ensures you’re getting highly concentrated oxygen to aid breathing.
Flow Rate Settings
Look for multiple flow rate settings to customise oxygen delivery. Low 1-3 LPM settings are suitable for nighttime/resting. Maximum 5 LPM provides high oxygen concentration during activity.
Choose a quiet model so the device doesn’t disturb your sleep or concentration. Under 50 decibels is optimal.
Size and Weight
Look for a compact, lightweight unit if portability is essential – under 30 lbs is manageable. Units with wheels and handles also improve portability.
Most oxygen concentrators can run via a battery, vehicle’s AC outlet or DC power. This allows use at home and on the go. Battery run time should be 6+ hours minimum.
Select a unit with at least a 3-5 year warranty on the compressor, the most crucial part. This ensures the device will function reliably for years.
Oxygen concentrators range from $500-$3000 based on features, capacity, warranty, etc. Work within your budget, but don’t sacrifice reliability or oxygen purity. Your medical supplier can help you select the best model for your needs and finances.
Importance of Proper Use & Care
While oxygen concentrators are relatively low-maintenance, follow these tips to keep your unit working correctly:
- Use distilled or demineralised water only to prevent mineral buildup
- Clean and replace filters per manufacturer guidelines
- Don’t obstruct air intake/outlet vents
- Handle cannula tubing with care to avoid cracking
- Transport unit securely while upright and stabilised
- Keep concentrated oxygen away from sparks or open flames
Discuss proper usage, care, and maintenance with your equipment provider when you first receive your oxygen concentrator. Follow all manufacturer instructions. You’ll breathe easier for years with the suitable concentrator and some basic upkeep.
This article was researched and created using reputable sources, including:
- American Lung Association
- COPD Foundation
- American Thoracic Society
- Respiratory health organisations and medical centres
- Oxygen concentrator manufacturer product information
- Medical supply retailers and knowledgeable staff
Oxygen concentrators like the Philips Respironics Everflo oxygen concentrator are often the ideal solution for supplemental oxygen delivery at home or on the go. This guide provides a helpful overview of how concentrators work, the key benefits of traditional oxygen tanks, and what features to look for when selecting a model. Proper usage and essential maintenance will keep your concentrator working optimally. Consult your doctor to see if an oxygen concentrator could help you or your loved one breathe easier.