Ever since the pandemic struck, we have all been hearing about oxygen concentrators and how they serve as potential lifesavers.
An oxygen concentrator is a medical device that offers long-term oxygen therapy to people who cannot breathe on their own. Unlike an oxygen cylinder, which has stored compressed gas or liquid oxygen, an oxygen concentrator uses the ambient air to produce and supply oxygen.
They can be used both in a hospital setting or at home to assist people to breathe better and are a convenient and reliable source of oxygen.
There are two types of oxygen concentrators:
Oxygen concentrators have proved to be a boon during the several COVID-19 waves. It is a respiratory disease that infects the linings of your lungs by travelling down their airways. When this happens, their walls thicken leading to oedema and reduction in the capacity of oxygen diffusion. This is where the importance of high-flow oxygen therapy through an oxygen concentrator comes in.
But did you know that an oxygen concentrator machine is not a new invention? They have been around the 1970s and have been used in treating a variety of conditions such as asthma, COPD, pulmonary oedema, heart failure, sleep apnea, pneumonia, cystic fibrosis, chronic hypoxemia, etc.
They come in handy in the case of:
We all understand that oxygen concentrators provide oxygen to people who have low levels of it in their blood. But how does this device work?
The air around is constituted of 79% nitrogen and 21% oxygen. An oxygen concentrator filter delivers air that is up to 95% oxygen.
The compressor of the oxygen concentrator compresses the air that moves to the sieve bed filters. These sieve beds, made of Zeolite, remove nitrogen from the air and convert it into oxygen. This device also consists of a cooling system that doesn’t allow it from overheating and a nasal cannula that supplies oxygen to the user. It also adjusts the pressure at which oxygen is delivered to the patient.
Since an oxygen concentrator has the potential to save your life, it is critical that you choose the one according to your specific needs.
But first things first, an oxygen concentrator can be used only after a doctor’s prescription. They will choose the best fit for you depending on your oxygen requirement, general health, financial situation, and other such essentials.
Here are some important things that you need to consider before investing in an oxygen concentrator:
One of the most critical factors, the flow rate capability is the rate at which the oxygen gets supplied to the patient. It is measured in litres per minute (LPM). Usually, the oxygen flow rate is 3, 5, 8, or 10 LPM, though some devices may produce oxygen more than 10 LPM also.
Ensure the device that you buy has a working adjustable flow meter. This helps in adjusting the oxygen concentrator flow rate according to the user’s specific needs. For instance, a stable patient who needs static levels of oxygen can choose a device with a relatively low output. However, patients who have severe respiratory distress or are hospitalised, need devices with higher outputs.
An important thing to keep in mind is that the capacity of the oxygen concentrator must be higher than your requirement. For example, if you require a 5 LPM device, opt for one that has an output of 8 LPM. This comes in handy in unforeseen situations.
The wattage used by an oxygen concentrator depends on its size and the settings that you use. If you intend to use a stationary oxygen concentrator, it will not run on batteries. They are apt for people who require higher levels of oxygen and hence are larger in size and heavier. Studying the specifications of amps and volts on the product packaging will give you an estimate of how much your electricity bill could go up.
In case your oxygen requirement is lower and stable, you can opt for a concentrator operated on batteries. These are lighter in weight and portable too. These concentrators come with battery backup so that your safety is not compromised at the time when you require them.
If you lead an active life that requires you to be out of home for longer periods, a portable oxygen concentrator will be the best choice for you. They come with batteries and also a plug-in option. Once the batteries are charged, you can use this concentrator while out for meetings or even while driving. They allow you to take part in social events and enjoy a good quality of life.
An important advantage of these portable oxygen machines is that they are compact, lightweight, and discreet. Our experts recommend the Philips Simplygo Mini Oxygen Concentrator that checks all these boxes.
However, you should know that if your oxygen requirements are more, you will have to choose a non portable oxygen concentrator with a higher capacity. These may be larger, heavier, and more expensive, but don’t compromise your oxygen requirements.
Oxygen concentrators filter the ambient air and deliver oxygenated air to the user that has a specific percentage of oxygen. This is what is known as oxygen concentration. Depending on the design, quality, and the number of filtration systems, every concentrator model has a different oxygen concentration capacity.
Usually, the oxygen concentration levels range between 87-99 per cent, at par with the oxygen concentration in oxygen cylinder. Patients who have chronic respiratory problems need maximum oxygen concentration for breathing. They must opt for high-powered options that are capable of supplying high levels of oxygen.
Whereas, people who don’t require high oxygen concentrations can opt for portable and lightweight oxygen concentrators.
One of the best concentrators with optimum oxygen concentration is Everflow Oxygen Concentrator.
Though this is a point that we all tend to overlook, the noise level of your oxygen concentrator is an important consideration. Though with advancements in technology, the sound levels in oxygen concentrators now range between 30-60 decibels, they do make a certain amount of noise.
The oxygen concentrator noise level depends on several factors. These include its power capacity, size, and weight. The more power and higher the flow rate that your device has, the higher will be the noise generated. On the other hand, a smaller portable oxygen concentrator with relatively low power and flow rate will be quieter and generate less heat too.
While these are some of the most important considerations, there are other things that will help you in choosing the best oxygen concentrator for yourself. Some of these include if the brand meets the requisite approvals, warranty, ease of operation, and ease of maintenance in case some of its parts wear out. Besides taking into account all these factors, what will help make them more efficient is how safely you use them. They should be out of children’s reach, must never be used near an open flame, and need to be cleaned regularly. By following these expert tips, whether you use a portable oxygen concentrator or a stationary one, you can be assured of receiving an optimum oxygen supply every time you need it.
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