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Portable Oxygen Concentrator Resource Center

Understanding the Basics of a Home Oxygen Concentrator

[fa icon="calendar'] Jul 17, 2014 4:30:00 PM / by Caleb Umstead


Whether you have suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for years or you have just recently been diagnosed, you should know that your lungs are damaged and can no longer deliver the necessary amount of oxygen throughout your body. This is why your doctor may have written you a prescription for a stationary oxygen concentrator. Now some stationary oxygen concentrators have different features, the overall operation is the same across the board. Today we will be discussing what an oxygen concentrator is, as well as how to properly operate them.

Learning the Basics of Stationary Oxygen Concentrators

Defining a Stationary Oxygen Concentrator

How stationary, also known as home oxygen concentrators, work is by simply taking air that is present in the room and filtering it to produce medical grade oxygen. The air we all breathe is 79% nitrogen and 21% oxygen, the stationary concentrator sends the ambient air through the sieve beds to produce medical grade oxygen (93% +/- 3%). The medical oxygen is then delivered through a tubing device that you attach to the machine, this can either be a nasal cannula or oxygen mask depending on what your doctor recommends.

The Basic Parts of a Home Oxygen Concentrator

Home oxygen concentrators are evolving with new technology, so some parts may vary depending on the machine but the basic operational parts remain the same, including:

  • Power Button: This will be located in a easy to find place, you will use this to power on/off the concentrator. Upon pressing the power button it will typically stay illuminated so you can easily tell if the machine is on or off.

  • Flow Adjustment: The flow meter allows you to adjust how quickly or slowly oxygen is being delivered through the cannula. Never adjust your flow rate without before consulting with your doctor.

  • Alarming Notifications: Certain stationary concentrators have alarms for different reasons such as low breath, or low oxygen output, but all stationary concentrators have an alarm if they suddenly stop receiving power.

  • Humidifier Bottle: Humidifier bottles will warm the oxygen and mix it with water, which adds moisture to the medical grade oxygen before inhalation. Patients often complain of a dry mouth, throat, and nasal cavities from the usage of supplemental oxygen, and a humidifier bottle takes care of that by keeping all those parts moist and comfortable. Most of the time a humidifier bottle is not included with the purchase of a home oxygen concentrator, so when ordering it is highly recommended that you ask about purchasing one.

Operating Your Oxygen Concentrator

Never try to adjust or do any maintenance yourself as a professionally trained technician is required, strictly follow the operational instructions included from the manufacturer and your doctor which can include:

  •  Properly Clean the Air Inlet Filter: Depending on how frequently you use the concentrator, you will need to remove and wash the filter with soapy water. Once it is rinsed clean squeeze any excess water and let dry for a couple of minutes before placing it back into the concentrator.

  • Establish Your Flow Rate: Once being prescribed supplemental oxygen your respiratory specialist should have shown you how to set your prescribed flow rate.

  • Fill the Humidifier Bottle: Depending how frequent you are using the humidifier bottle you will need to fill it at least once a day. When you notice the bottle getting low, simply wash it and refill it with distilled water.

  • Starting to Use Your Oxygen Concentrator: To start just attach the nasal cannula, plug the home oxygen concentrator into the wall, turn it on, then attach the nasal cannula to your nose, and enjoy all the benefits medical grade oxygen provides!  

Supplemental Insurance & Medicare Information on Portable Oxygen Concentrators

+Caleb Umstead

Topics: oxygen therapy, home oxygen concentrators

Caleb Umstead

Written by Caleb Umstead

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