An oxygen concentrator is a medical device that concentrates (extracts) the oxygen from the atmospheric air which consists of 21% of oxygen, 78% of nitrogen, and 1% of other gases. The oxygen concentrators take in the air from the atmosphere, filters it, and release nitrogen and other gases back into the atmosphere and supply the concentrated oxygen. The concentrators provide up to 95% of pure oxygen and can supply 1-10 liters of oxygen per minute as per the requirement.
The oxygen concentrators can be used for patient’s life support in hospitals, homes, and transport. They can be used as alternatives to oxygen cylinders to supply oxygen to the patients for life support.
It allows people to meet their oxygen therapy needs while on the go. Most people that need oxygen therapy suffering from COPD, severe asthma, or any other lung conditions, for them, oxygen concentrators are very useful. It is a much better alternative to carrying big and extremely heavy oxygen tanks. Pure oxygen is toxic, but only if you are exposed to it for long periods of time. And this device takes in the air around you, purifies it, and what comes out is oxygen according to your required amount.
The portable oxygen concentrator is a lightweight model that also works on rechargeable batteries, which allows the user to be able to move about freely and also engage in outdoor activities.
HOW DO OXYGEN CONCENTRATORS WORK!
- Firstly, the device pulls out the surrounding air, which is mostly nitrogen and oxygen through a compressor.
- The air is then pervaded through several filtering equipments that tend to remove the nitrogen leaving behind purified oxygen.
- This purified oxygen is then run through a pressure regulator which controls the flow and amount of oxygen to be delivered to the patient.
- Finally, through the nasal cannula or tube or through a mask, purified oxygen is then delivered to the patient.
HOW TO SELECT THE BEST OXYGEN CONCENTRATOR!
There are few parameters that you must be aware of and check before buying any oxygen concentrator-
- TYPES OF OXYGEN CONCENTRATORS: There are commonly two types of oxygen concentrators available. The types of concentrators are based on how much oxygen is delivered in liters per minute(LPM).
- LOW FLOW (Up to 5 LPM)- One is a low-flow oxygen concentrator that delivers up to 5 liters of oxygen per minute. It is also called a PULSE FLOW CONCENTRATOR.
- HIGH FLOW (8LMP OR 10LPM)- Other is a high flow concentrator that delivers around 8 to 10 liters of oxygen per minute. It is also known as a CONTINUOUS FLOW CONCENTRATOR.
- FLOW OF OXYGEN: It is the very important and basic thing that you must be aware of that how much flow of oxygen is delivered by the device in liters per minute (LPM). The commonly used oxygen concentrator is the one that delivers around 5LPM of oxygen. The LOW FLOW OXYGEN CONCENTRATOR is commonly used.
- OXYGEN CONCENTRATION: The purified oxygen that finally runs through the pressure regulator and is delivered to the patient has a specific amount of pure oxygen content on it. This amount is known as “Oxygen Concentration”. And the amount of oxygen concentration depends on the number of filters in the concentrator as well as the effectiveness of nitrogen removing efficiency of the device. The common oxygen concentration value ranges between 85-99 %.
- PORTABILITY: It is very important to keep in mind how mobile you want your concentrator to be so that it can be carried anywhere and handled easily while you travel. The devices that are HIGH POWERED or HIGH FLOW CONCENTRATORS are larger and heavier compared to LOW FLOW CONCENTRATORS.
- NOISE: Very commonly overlooked feature is the noise generated by any device. Depending upon the power levels, construction units, layouts, the oxygen concentrators may vary in the amount of noise they generate while in use.
HOW TO BUY AN OXYGEN CONCENTRATOR!
- As the oxygen concentrators are medical-grade oxygen treatment devices, they should not be bought without a valid prescription from the doctor.
- Oxygen concentrators might have some of the side-effects like –
- Skin irritation
- Nasal dryness
This may be due to consistent airflow in the sinuses or long term or maybe high flow rates of oxygen. So, the concentrators must always be bought and used under the supervision of doctors.
- Some of the recommended oxygen concentrators are-
- Inogen Stationary Oxygen Concentrator 5 LPM
- Invacare Stationary Oxygen Concentrator 10 LPM
- Oxylife Portable Oxygen Concentrator System 6 LPM
- ADDITIONAL FEATURES–
Many companies offer a variety of supplementary products along with concentrators that makes its use easy and effective. Those products can be:
- Extra filters
- Flow locking settings
And other accessories that make your purchase convenient.
The oxygen concentrators have a life period of about 5-7 years. Ideally, it is recommended to replace the oxygen concentrator when the oxygen concentration begins to dip nearly by 80 %. At this stage, it becomes necessary to either replace the filters or to buy a new device.
Going for the right oxygen concentrator may be difficult but when you consider and compare all the features, it becomes easy to choose the right device.
As the additional features or additional products vary from company to company, it is recommended to review the supplementary options that are available along with the oxygen concentrator before making a purchase.