Oxygen Concentrators: In Layman’s Terms

For most people, breathing is taken for granted. We are unaware that every bodily function is consuming and using oxygen just by simply being. For some people, the 20% of oxygen that is found in ambient air is simply not enough.

People who suffer from lung diseases such as sarcoidosis, emphysema, and even sleep apnea require a higher dose of oxygen, just to perform daily activities. In these cases, a doctor may prescribe oxygen therapy. This requires the use of supplemental oxygen, provided by an oxygen concentrator.

Oxygen concentrators help patients remain independent, while reducing medical costs. There are two types of units, a home oxygen concentrator and a portable version. The main function of these devices is to provide purer medical grade oxygen in high concentrations. Oxygen therapy will oftentimes improve sleep cycles, which in turn helps to increase mental alertness and stamina. It can also help prevent heart failure in cases of extreme lung disease. In the case of treating sleep apnea, it’s often prescribed along with CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure).
The home oxygen concentrator is designed specifically for the home and only requires a wall outlet. It can be rolled from room-to-room, but it is not meant for outside use. That is where the portable oxygen concentrator comes in. A smaller version of the home unit, they usually weigh less than ten pounds. You can use a carrying bag with it and accomplish short-term excursions outside of the home. Not only does a portable unit run off of a rechargeable battery, but it can be plugged into the car as well.

An oxygen concentrator works in the following way:    * Filters the oxygen from nitrogen.    * Releases the nitrogen back into the air.    * Delivers purer oxygen to the patient, via a nasal cannula.

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All of this takes place inside of the air compressor. The compressor pressurizes the ambient air through a molecular sieve (system of chemical filters). The sieve is made up with Zeolite, which are microporous minerals used for adsorption. (Adsorption is the adhesion of molecules from an element, applied to a surface.) Zeolite is the key to both home and portable concentrators, as it is what separates the oxygen from the nitrogen. This helps serve the lungs with up to 96% medical grade oxygen.

Some of the benefits to owning a portable oxygen concentrator:    * Although rare, the older oxygen tanks can be dangerous due to leaks, fires, or explosions.    * Most models are now FAA-approved to use on board commercial airlines.    * Mobility. The ability to live your life in an independent fashion, as you can carry it around anywhere you go.

Either type of unit can be continuous flow or pulse dose. The continuous flow creates a non-stop flow of oxygen through the nasal cannula, which is vital to those with serious lung diseases. The pulse-dose concentrator only pushes oxygen through when the person inhales. Some units are able to do both pulse and continuous flow to accommodate day or night activities.

For people in need of supplemental oxygen, it doesn’t have to be a cumbersome experience. Using a portable and/or home oxygen concentrator can have a positive effect on the over all well-being of a patient who is suffering.

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