If you have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), your lungs may not be getting all the oxygen they need. That’s why your doctor may prescribe an oxygen concentrator. Here’s a look at what an oxygen concentrator is and how to use it.
What Is a Stationary Oxygen Concentrator?
This device filters nitrogen and other gases out of the air, leaving only pure oxygen in the concentrator. A tube connects the concentrator to a breathing device, such as a cannula or mask, which delivers the pure oxygen through your nose and/or mouth.
Parts Of a Stationary Oxygen Concentrator
There are various sizes and types of stationary oxygen concentrators, but most of them feature the following:
- Power switch: This turns the concentrator on and off. A light shows you when the unit is on.
- Flow meter: This controls the flow rate—how fast the oxygen is delivered through the breathing device.
- Alarm: This safety feature alerts you if the concentrator stops receiving power for any reason.
- Humidifier: Oxygen is warmed and mixed with water before you breathe it. This keeps your mouth, nose and throat moist and comfortable. (Not all providers will offer a humidifier, so ask if yours will have one up front.)
Using Your Oxygen Concentrator
Follow your manufacturer's instructions when using your concentrator. Here are a few basics provided by Invacare, the largest manufacturer of oxygen concentrators:
- Care for the air inlet filter: Wash it in soapy water when it becomes dirty. Rinse it clean, and pat it dry before reinstalling it in the oxygen concentrator.
- Check the alarm: If your oxygen concentrator has this feature, make sure it’s in working order. If the buzzer does not sound when you push your power switch, call your oxygen provider for assistance.
- Set the flow meter: Your health-care provider should show you how to set your prescribed flow for your needs.
- Check the humidifier: Refill the bottle with distilled water when it runs low, which might be once or more per day.
- Use your oxygen concentrator: Hook up the tube, plug in the concentrator, press the power button and put on the breathing device to begin receiving oxygen.
Always refer to the Owner’s Manual to ensure proper understanding and use of this medical device.