Living On Oxygen for Life
I am about to explain the basics of an oxygen concentrator for all of you who are confused about this machine. (click on the pictures to see a bigger view) First, let me mention that there are different types of machines or forms of oxygen. There is an oxygen concentrator (what I’m about to show you), there is compressed oxygen that comes in a metal cylinder, liquid oxygen which is pressurized and contained in a metal reservoir, and then there are battery powered oxygen concentrators which are mainly used for portable use. I hope with this list, I didn’t confuse you.
In the pictures below is a Respironics Oxygen Concentrator. It provides up to 5 Liters per Minute of oxygen to a patient. You can see that I do not use a white humidifier bottle with this machine. A humidifier bottle contains distilled water which the oxygen flows through a little tube and bubbles up through the water which hydrates the oxygen that you receive. However, I connect my oxygen tubing straight to the machine. It’s recommended to use the humidifier when using oxygen at a higher flow, such as what I do (6LPM).
An oxygen concentrator is an electrical machine that plugs into a electrical wall outlet. When you turn on the machine, it intakes room air through a filtered vent. It filters the room air through it’s sieve beds, separating everything from the oxygen; which is then flowed out to you through the oxygen tubing connected to the machine. All the other “air” is expelled through another vent usually located at the bottom of the machine. You can feel it. It’s the warm air coming out of the machine.
It’s VERY important to NOT block the vent that expels the air from the vent. The Oxygen Concentrator should be located in a central area of your home allowing you to reach everywhere you want to go. Also, do NOT enclose the machine in a small room like a bathroom or a bedroom. This machine needs air and ventilation to keep it cool and functioning properly.
The next important thing about an oxygen concentrator is about keeping the vents and filters (some have just one that needs to be changed) clean. As you can see from the pictures below, my vents are gross. But don’t worry, I cleaned them with a dry cotton sock. (The sock went straight into the washing machine!) You can change the filter if you know what you’re doing or have been taught by the DME (Durable Medical Equipment) company who provided the machine for your use. Some oxygen concentrators need to have their filters changed more often than others. Some older machines have more than one filter to change. My one filter is located behind the little panel in the upper right corner in the picture below. It’s REALLY important that you contact your DME company and ask them to come out and change the filter of your machine if you haven’t had it done within 6 months. Ask them how often it needs to be done on your particular machine.
IMPORTANT: Do NOT try to open your machine or try to fix it if it is having problems. Call your DME immediately.
As you may have noticed, my oxygen concentrator is sitting beside my liquid oxygen reservoirs. I use both the concentrator and liquid oxygen at the same time with a very handy device called a splitter. The splitter in the picture is made of brass but I also have an emergency backup splitter made from plastic. Remember, I always have a backup. When a person has to use oxygen 24/7 as I do and many of you do too, it is so important to have back ups of things like 50ft tubing, the nasal canula for your portable, tubing connectors, bipap supplies (mask, hose, head gear, filters, & memory card). You don’t want to be caught on a weekend or a vacation when something breaks and you need another part. Been there, done that… but no more! Hey, don’t forget that duct tape! Trust me… you’ll thank me later. haha!
I hope I’ve explained the basics of an oxygen concentrator in an easy-to-understand way. As always, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org *hugs* I hope you are making your HAPPY JARS for 2015! Read about it here.