October 17, 2023

Get To Know Your Equipment: Oxygen Concentrator

Author: Jessica Fox

FreeStyle Comfort Portable Oxygen Concentrator from CAIRE
Oxygen Concentrators are medical devices that may be rented or sold and require a valid prescription1. Whether you are a medical professional or someone in need of supplemental oxygen, it is important to understand the basics of oxygen concentrator equipment. Here we will provide a beginner's guide to the oxygen concentrator.

What is an Oxygen Concentrator?

An oxygen concentrator is a device that extracts and delivers concentrated oxygen to individuals with respiratory conditions, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or other breathing disorders. It takes in ambient air, removes nitrogen and other impurities, and delivers purified oxygen to the user. They use electrical pumps to concentrate the continuous oxygen supply from the surrounding air2.

How Does an Oxygen Concentrator Work?

An oxygen concentrator works based on pressure swing adsorption (PSA) principles or membrane separation. In a PSA concentrator, air is drawn into the device through an inlet filter and passed through molecular sieve beds. The molecular sieve adsorbs nitrogen and other impurities, while concentrated oxygen is released and delivered to the user3.

Types of Oxygen Concentrators

There are two main types of oxygen concentrators:

  • Stationary oxygen concentrators are larger and require electricity to be powered for daily use in the home or in a clinical setting. They have a high oxygen output and are typically used by individuals who require continuous or nighttime oxygen therapy.
  • Portable oxygen concentrators (POCs) are small, lightweight, and battery-powered devices that allow users to carry them around for mobility and convenience. POCs provide oxygen to the user in small bursts each time they inhale, a process known as "pulse dose." Some models are also capable of providing oxygen at a continuous flow rate.

Key Features

  1. Oxygen Output: The amount of oxygen the device can deliver per minute, measured in liters per min (LPM) Make sure the output is set at your specific oxygen requirements determined by your healthcare provider.
  2. Noise Level: Some concentrators produce more noise than others. Consider your living or working environment and choose a device with a noise level that suits your needs.
  3. Oxygen Purity: The concentration of oxygen delivered by the concentrators, usually expressed as a percentage. Most devices deliver oxygen with a purity of 90% or higher.
  4. Portability: If you plan on using the portable oxygen concentrator, consider its weight, size, battery life, pulse dose output and ease of carrying. Portable oxygen concentrators cannot be used when a patient is sleeping.

When using an Oxygen Concentrator

  • Do not use the concentrator, or any oxygen product near an open flame or while smoking.
  • Do not block any vents on the concentrator. Always place the concentrator in an open space to reduce the chances of device failure from overheating.
  • Periodically check your device for any alarms to ensure you get your prescribed oxygen level.

Maintenance and Cleaning

Proper maintenance and cleaning are crucial for your oxygen concentrator's effective and safe operations. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for routine maintenance, filter replacement, and cleaning procedures. It is also important to regularly check and clean the device’s filters, as dust and dirt accumulation can affect its performance. At Lincare, you will be provided detailed education on the proper maintenance and cleaning of the specific make and model of the concentrator received at the time of setup. We will also supply you with replacement filters and disposable supplies, including tubing and cannulas as necessary.

Understanding your oxygen concentrator equipment is essential for maximizing its benefits and meeting your respiratory needs. By familiarizing yourself with the different types, key features, and maintenance practices, you can effectively manage your oxygen therapy. Always consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice and guidance.

1 https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/pulse-oximeters-and-oxygen-concentrators-what-know-about-home-oxygen-therapy
2 https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/pulse-oximeters-and-oxygen-concentrators-what-know-about-home-oxygen-therapy
3 https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/25183-oxygen-concentrators

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