Oxygen concentrators are medical devices that convert ambient air into a higher concentration of oxygen. They are routinely used to provide oxygen therapy to those who have difficulty in breathing, and are less expensive, more convenient, and safer options compared to compressed oxygen in metal tanks.
Oxygen concentrators function by removing nitrogen in the ambient air and delivering highly-concentrated oxygen to the patient through tubes or face masks. A common oxygen concentrator is capable of continuous oxygen output measured in liters per minute (lpm).
Oxygen is vital for cell metabolism and physiological functions. Oxygen therapy is a medical intervention to administer oxygen in providing patient care. It is used to increase tissue oxygenation by increasing the supply of oxygen to the lungs. Recent breakthroughs in oxygen delivery systems are designed to provide the needs of patients on oxygen therapy.
Important things to consider before buying an oxygen concentrator:
1. Talk to healthcare professionals. They can offer the best advice for your needs.
2. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Talk to suppliers and manufacturers. Ask people who are using a similar type of machine as the one you are looking for.
3. Price is not always the best guiding factor. Some units are expensive because they come with accessories; others cost more because they are well-advertised.
4. Get a unit with a little higher capacity than what you need. You will end up saving money with this investment than if you would need to buy a better model in the future.
The two basic types of oxygen concentrators used for oxygen therapy in the home are the portable and non-portable, which vary according to output capacity and weight.
Portable oxygen concentrators are extremely useful for people who need extra oxygen as they allow for more freedom of movement. They are light and convenient to carry around, and do not emit annoying sounds when in use.
Portable oxygen concentrators deliver oxygen to the patient using the pulse delivery method. It can provide a maximum of 1 lpm of oxygen flow. The patient’s ability to synchronize breathing to the rhythm of the machine can improve its efficiency. A prescription is required to purchase a portable unit.
Non-portable oxygen concentrators, sometimes known as home units, use the continuous flow delivery method, where a steady flow of pure oxygen is coursed to the patient. This type of machine is suitable for people with advanced pulmonary diseases or more serious breathing disorders. Home units are designed for continuous operation with an output capacity of 1 lpm or more, with modern models that can deliver up to 10 lpm. Non-portables cost more than portables but do not require prescription.