What are Oxygen Concentrators, and How to Use Them?
Updated On March 20, 2023 | by Steffi Stark
An oxygen concentrator refers to a medical device that filters and provides extra oxygen supply to the user. It features a filtration unit, storage cylinder, and mask. Some high-end models, like Everflo Oxygen Concentrator, use cannulas too.
Typically, doctors recommend an oxygen concentrator if you have asthma, COPD, lung cancer, or COVID-19. All these health conditions trigger severe breathing issues. However, while some of these are temporary, others are chronic.
Patients with chronic breathing problems have to use oxygen concentrators throughout the day, even when they’re resting, and not just that, oxygen therapy is used to cure several illnesses. In these cases, the patient has to operate the device himself. So, they need to understand the dos and don’ts.
In this article, we’ve shared the correct method of using oxygen concentrators, along with safety tips. So, if your doctor has recently prescribed its use, do give these guidelines a read!
How to Use Oxygen Concentrators?
Step 1: The Ideal Placement
There is no definite house area where you should place the oxygen concentrator. It’s okay to place it in the bedroom, lounge, or anywhere else. However, make sure the device isn’t in contact with the walls, sofas, and other objects.
Ideally, you should keep the oxygen concentrator 1 to 2-feet apart from things. It’s because the concentrator becomes hot quickly and can damage the furnishings. Also, the additional space around the device allows more air to circulate and makes oxygen concentration easy.
Step 2: Connect the Humidification Bottle
A humidification bottle, or humidifier, adds moisture to the oxygen. However, the doctor only prescribes it when the oxygen flow rate is more than 2 to 3 liters per minute. So, if your recommended flow rate is less, skip these steps and move on to the next one.
● Uncap the humidification bottle and fill it with distilled or filtered water.
● Fix its threaded opening into the oxygen concentrator’s outlet.
● Carefully twist in a clockwise direction until it’s secured.
Step 3: Attach the Tubes
The tubes are the passageway through which oxygen flows from the device to the mask or cannula. You will attach these tubes to the adapter. But, if you’re using a humidifier, connect the tubes to the port on the bottle instead.
Step 4: Check the Air Inlet Filter
The air inlet filter is present right on the side of the oxygen concentrator. Its purpose is to take in the surrounding air and remove unwanted particles from it. Thus, it helps purify oxygen.
Before using the concentrator, it’s best to check the filter for any blockage or dirt. You cannot use the device if the filters aren’t clean.
Step 5: Start the Oxygen Concentrator
Switch on the oxygen concentrator and let it run for some time. The machine needs time to cycle the correct concentration of oxygen. So, turn it on at least 20-minutes before usage.
Also, make sure that it is the only thing connected to the power source. Oxygen concentrators can be quite power-intensive. Never use extension cords as they can lead to fires.
Step 6: Set the Desired LPM
The control knob for LPM or liters per minute will be present on top of the oxygen concentrator. It will showcase levels like 1, 2, and 3. You should set it on the one that your doctor prescribed.
Do not decide and adjust the oxygen levels yourself. Always consult the doctor in case of confusion or forgetfulness.
Step 7: Wear the Mask/Cannula
Once everything is set up, give the oxygen concentrator a quick check. Make sure the filters are properly working, and the tubes have no bends. Also, the mask or cannula shouldn’t have any gaps that can lead to oxygen leakage.
Now, wear the mask. Place the elastic band of the mask around your ears or over the head. It shouldn’t be too tight or too loose.
For the nasal cannula, place the prongs inside your nostrils. Loop the tubings over your ears. If the tubes are long enough to be under your chin, make use of a tube adjuster to keep them out of the way.
Safety Tips for Using Oxygen Concentrators
● Make sure the vents of the oxygen concentrator do not get blocked. It can put a strain on the machine and make it work harder. In some cases, there can be overheating and fire.
● Keep the oxygen concentrator away from fire or smoke.
● Wash the air inlet filters once a week to avoid blockages. Also, dry thoroughly before use.
● The oxygen concentrator will make some noise while processing air. But, if you hear any beeping or alarms, check the manual immediately. It means something is wrong with the functionality or settings.