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Oxygen Concentrator: How to set up and use at home

The ongoing novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has created new markets for products like masks, sanitizers and PPEs but one product which is specifically used at homes is oxygen concentrators. Demand for oxygen concentrators has increased drastically es

Post by on Wednesday, May 26, 2021

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The ongoing novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has created new markets for products like masks, sanitizers and PPEs but one product which is specifically used at homes is oxygen concentrators. Demand for oxygen concentrators has increased drastically especially in countries with limited health infrastructure. As such these oxygen concentrators are playing a vital role in managing a good number of patients at home.

Oxygen concentrators provide the cheapest and most consistent source of oxygen. The concentrator is an alternative to using oxygen cylinders. However, while oxygen cylinders work for a finite amount of time since they contain a limited supply of oxygen, oxygen concentrators recycle the oxygen by collecting it from the surrounding air, concentrating it and then delivering it. Such a process then cuts down the need for constant replacements or refilling. It’s available in a lot of types and sizes, depending on a person's needs and requirements.

While oxygen concentrators can provide around 5-10 liters per minute and are thus suitable for patients with moderate symptoms of Covid-19.

The oxygen concentrator is an effective supply source in home  oxygen –therapy. Since an oxygen concentrator is a medical-grade oxygen   treatment device, a medical prescription becomes mandatory to buy one.


How to use oxygen concentrator:

Plug in the concentrator as it works on electric power. Power should be connected. An alarm will sound if it is not plugged properly in or if there is an abrupt power failure. Next attach the nasal cannula or face mask and set the rate which is prescribed to you by your doctor.

You will notice the oxygen flow is prescribed in a number of liters per minute. The flow rate or number of liters per minute is your prescription. Do not self adjust your oxygen flow rate without consulting your doctor. You can use a nasal cannula connected with a hose of up to 50 feet at home which can help you in taking brisk walks. But you should be careful when you are walking so you do not trip on it. Fill the humidifier bottle with   distal water as is recommended but for humidification we can use boiled water after cooling and now attach the humidifier to the machine.

Then start with a nasal cannula which is a simple tubing and the tube has two ports which are  placed inside your  nostrils after placing in the nostrils then on either side the tube hocks around your ears and then you can adjust the tubing.

Once the humidifier is attached, connect the oxygen tubing with Nasal prongs at the right level.

The key thing to remember is if your oxygen level is less than 90 % and respiratory rate more than 24 per minute or feeling subjective breathlessness with maximum delivery capacity of oxygen concentrator you must seek medical attention immediately.


Care for your oxygen concentrator:


Care of your machine is very vital and with washing your nasal cannula or face mask weekly with mild dish soap and warm water. Clean them more frequently if you are sick. Be sure not to get water in tubing and replace it if it is damaged; you can get replacement from your oxygen concentrator supplier. Clean your humidifier bottle every three days with warm water and mild dish soap. Make sure you rinse out all of the soap with hot water. You can then soak it in a vinegar and water solution for a few minutes to help get rid of any bacteria colonization .Dry the bottle with a paper towel and let it air dry.

Clean the machine's filter once a month by removing the filter. After removing the filter, dip it into a clean container filled with water and mild dish soap . Scrub the filter with a washcloth to remove any small pieces of dirt or dust and rinse it underwater to remove all soap residues. Then set the filter on a clean dry towel and let it air dry completely before putting it back in the machine. A home oxygen concentrator can help you stay healthier and more active in your home. It might be daunting at first to get started with this oxygen device but with practice and time you will gain confidence in using it for oxygen therapy.



Safety Tips

Maintain safe distances from open flames

Fire poses a hazard around oxygen. Always maintain at least two meters between a fire and your portable oxygen concentrator and accessories. 


Avoid exposure to moist air

For your safety, it’s crucial that your portable oxygen concentrator does not get wet or be exposed to moist air. However, depending on your specific needs, you may find that you’ll need to take a shower or bathe while using your unit.

A bathroom exhaust fan, extended tubing leading to your cannula and a detachable showerhead will all make this experience easier – and safer – for you.


Maintain safe distances from wet surfaces

It’s important that you prevent your unit from getting wet. If your portable oxygen concentrator gets wet, you must turn off the unit and unplug it immediately.


No Smoking

Smoking during oxygen therapy is dangerous—and will likely result in injury! You must not allow smoking in the same room with the portable oxygen concentrator or where any oxygen carrying accessories are located.



Avoid aerosol products

It is important that you avoid aerosol products while using your portable oxygen concentrator. This includes hairsprays, many body sprays, and even some air fresheners.  Aerosol products are highly flammable.


Do not block intake vents

One last portable oxygen concentrator safety tip to remember relates to the intake vents. As you can imagine, any blockage of the vents can inhibit performance, whether it’s baggy clothing or a carry bag that’s been shifted to an incorrect position on the machine. It’s important to keep an eye on this as you use your unit day to day. (Source: Precision Medical)


 Dr Farooq Ahmed Ganie

 Assistant Professor

 Cardiovascular Thoracic Surgery


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