Oxygen Concentrators & Generators
Oxygen Concentrators are often referred to as oxygen machines, oxygen generators, or O2 concentrators. They provide a cost-effective way for oxygen therapy patients to supplement their oxygen needs without the need of bulky, heavy oxygen tanks. Unlike tanks, concentrators do not run out of oxygen. A personal unit pulls-in regular room air, filters out some of the other gases present and delivers concentrated, medical-grade oxygen.
Quick links to comparison charts and studies.
- Comparison Charts reviews 8 and10 liter home units.
- Studies provides medical studies on the efficacy of oxygen devices.
Since medical grade O2 devices are regulated by the federal government, a prescription by a licensed physician is required in order to purchase any medical oxygen concentrators for sale. A non-medical device is often referred to as an oxygen bar and is most often used for "recreational" O2. These types of oxygen machines do not require a prescription from a doctor. The SeQual Regalia is an example of an non medical devices.
Types of Concentrators: Portable vs. Home
The two types: a Portable and Stationary Units. A stationary or home device usually features built-in wheels to move from room to room and is powered by AC current (plugging it into the wall). They are able to operate continuously 24/7 and produce higher liter-per-minute flows than their portable counterparts.
A portable machine is smaller, lightweight and runs off of a battery rather than just AC current. They operate from AC current and in-fact, they charge their batteries from household AC current. Portable oxygen machines also come with a DC power cord to operate in your car or RV. The DC power cord allows you to use breathing therapy while in a vehicle, conserving your battery power for when their is no external power source.
How Do They Work: Continuous Flow vs Pulse Flow
An O2 concentrator filters air from its surroundings, compresses it and then dispenses it in a continuous flow or a pulse flow. A continuous flow device continually delivers a concentrated flow of oxygen to the patient. Continuous flow oxygen is measured in liters-per-minute (LPM). These devices provide a continuous flow of oxygen. Only a few portable machines can provide continuous flow and these oxygen machines are slightly larger than the "carry type" travel units that accompany the patient in a backpack or handbag. The continuous flow of portable devices usually has built-on wheels or a cart for easy transport.
A pulse flow unit is usually associated with the "carry type" oxygen machines. A pulse flow unit delivers concentrated bursts, or pulses of oxygen, every time you inhale. These pulse doses are measured in what is called a bolus output. Pulse flow O2 concentrators are usually smaller in size and weight less than 10 pounds.
Challenges for Oxygen TherapyThere is always a demand for a lighter, smaller, quieter oxygen machines. The problem is that the quieter the machine, the bigger it usually is. The smaller devices typically aren't capable of continuous flow at all and they are louder than bigger concentrators. The reason is that the compressor has to work harder if it is smaller. If the patient needs a liter-per-minute flow of 6 or more, there are only a few machines capable of this and they are bigger and louder than 5-liter concentrators. Another consideration is the aesthetics of the unit. Since a stationary unit is designed for the home, many customers have come to regard it as a piece of furniture, rather than just a tool for providing oxygen. The Caire Companion 5 was designed to be more aesthetically pleasing than some other competing models.
Using a Concentrator Video
For use, there’s a couple of different models but they basically all have the same parts. What you want to locate are the parts that are the liter flow valve which is just the amount of oxygen.
The oxygen tubing connector which can also be connected to a humidifier, we don’t use humidifiers because they have a tendency to accumulate bacteria. The off/on switch and the reset button are either on the back or the side of the machine is a foam filter. The foam filter needs to be taken off and washed once a week. You can wash it with dish soap and water and let it air dry, then replace it.
Plug your unit in remembering to store it away from a heat source. When you turn it on, it will have an audible beep which indicates that it is working correctly. Turn the liter flow down.
Attach your oxygen tubing with either the nasal cannula or the mask. Turn the machine on, adjust the liter flow rate. There’s a small ball in the gauge that you line up with the corresponding number. For low liter flows often you cannot feel the oxygen coming out of the nasal cannula so you can check to make sure that you have adequate oxygen by placing the end of the cannula into a glass of water.
Then you can apply the cannula or the mask and then document the administration of oxygen in the medical administration record.