Travel with oxygen

Oxygen Concentrator

Oxygen concentrators take in air from the room and filter out nitrogen. The process provides the higher amounts of oxygen needed for oxygen therapy. They are used industrially and as medical devices for oxygen therapy.

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Oxygen concentrators for oxygen therapy

An oxygen concentrator is a medical device that gives you extra oxygen. Your doctor may prescribe one for you if you have a health condition that causes your oxygen level to drop too low.

Oxygen concentrators provide supplementary oxygen for
patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
and, in higher concentrations, for severe chronic hypoxemia and
pulmonary edema. They may be used as an adjunct treatment
for severe sleep apnea (in conjunction with a continuous positive
airway pressure unit) and can help some people who have trouble breathing due to conditions like: Asthma – Lung cancer – COPD – The flu – COVID-19.
Generally, if your O2 saturation falls below 89 percent, or your paO2 falls below 60 mm Hg — whether at rest, with activity or during sleep — then you qualify for supplemental oxygen.

The amount of oxygen in the bloodstream can be easily measured two ways:

Oximetry is the method used most often. A small, clip-on device shines a light through your finger or earlobe and measures the amount of light absorbed by the oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in the red blood cells. By calculating the amount of light absorption, the device can measure how saturated the hemoglobin is with oxygen molecules, or O2 sat. Normally, the oxygen saturation of the blood is around 98 to 100 percent.

Arterial blood gas study In this procedure, blood is drawn out of an artery, usually in the wrist, using a needle and syringe. The blood is then sent through an analyzer to measure the amount of oxygen gas dissolved in the blood. This result is called the arterial oxygen pressure (paO2), and is normally 80 to 100 mm Hg.

Oxygen concentrators are typically used
as stationary sources to provide long-term oxygen therapy
(LTOT) to patients at home or as a portable oxygen device for outdoor activities.

There are two types of concentrators: a bigger model you can use at home, and a lighter, portable model you can use on the go. Portable oxygen concentrators can provide oxygen via continuous flow, pulse flow or a combination of the two.

Oxygen concentrators consist of a cabinet that houses the
compressor and filters; tubing; a nasal cannula and/or face
mask. Portable units will additionally include an AC and/or DC
charger, and a battery.

How an oxygen concentrator work?

An oxygen concentrator takes in air and removes nitrogen from it, leaving an oxygen-enriched gas for use by people requiring medical oxygen due to low oxygen levels in their blood.

Oxygen concentrators utilize a molecular sieve to adsorb gases and operate on the principle of rapid pressure swing adsorption of atmospheric nitrogen onto zeolite minerals at high pressure. This type of adsorption system is therefore functionally a nitrogen scrubber leaving the other atmospheric gases to pass through, leaving oxygen as the primary gas remaining.

The oxygen concentrator compresses air and passes it over zeolite, causing the zeolite to adsorb the nitrogen from the air. It then collects the remaining gas, which is mostly oxygen, and the nitrogen desorbs from the zeolite under the reduced pressure to be vented.
An oxygen concentrator has an air compressor, two cylinders filled with zeolite pellets, a pressure-equalizing reservoir, and some valves and tubes

Concentrators may be large and stationary or small and portable. Concentrators are different than tanks or other containers supplying oxygen because they use electrical pumps to concentrate the continuous supply of oxygen that comes from the surrounding air.

Oxygen Concentrators Accessories

Several accessories come with your oxygen equipment. In addition, there are other accessories to make wearing or carrying your oxygen more comfortable. Below are examples of a few basic accessories.

Nasal cannula Oxygen is generally delivered through tubing and a nasal cannula, sometimes called nasal prongs. The nasal cannula end of the tubing fits into your nose, and is the most common delivery accessory.

The stationary equipment for home use comes with 50-foot tubing, so you can freely move about the house. The ambulatory equipment comes with shorter tubing.
Oxygen masks Oxygen masks can also be used for higher oxygen needs. The Oxymask is a comfortable version.
Reservoir tubing An Oxymizer mustache or pendant can increase the amount of oxygen delivered or make the oxygen last longer.
Humidifier bottle Higher oxygen settings can be drying to the lining of the nose. A humidifier attached to your stationary oxygen equipment can help prevent this dryness.
Carrying cases, carts Ambulatory oxygen tanks can be rolled in small carts, carried in backpacks and sometimes even worn as a waist pack. Portable oxygen concentrators are rolled in their own cases, worn in a backback on the back or slung over the shoulder.

Guide about using an oxygen concentrator:

Do not use the concentrator, or any oxygen product, near an open flame or while smoking.
Place the concentrator in an open space to reduce chances of device failure from overheating.
Do not block any vents on the concentrator since it may impact device performance.
Periodically check your device for any alarms to make sure you are getting enough oxygen.

Follow the device’s instructions on how to use and maintain it. The doctor will tell you what level to set the oxygen flow rate to — that’s number of liters per minute. Don’t change the rate your doctor prescribed unless they tell you to.

Extra oxygen dries out your nose, you may be able to attach a humidifier bottle to the unit. You fill it with distilled water, and it makes the oxygen you breathe moister.

You can start by filling humidifier bottle with distilled water and attach it to the oxygen outlet. Then, plug your home oxygen concentrator into an electrical source. It needs to stay plugged in at all times to work properly. An alarm will sound if it is not plugged in or if there is an abrupt power failure.

If you use a humidifier bottle, clean it every 3 days with warm water and mild dish soap. Rinse it with hot water. You can also soak it in a mix of vinegar and water for a few minutes to clear out any leftover bacteria. Dry the bottle with a paper tower, then air dry it.

Attach your nasal cannula or facemask and set the rate, which is prescribed to you by your doctor. Medical oxygen is prescribed in number of liters per minute. Do not self-adjust your oxygen flow rate without consulting your doctor. Tubing or facemask. Wash once a week with warm water and mild dish soap. Clean it more often if you get sick. Let it air dry, and don’t let water get in the tube. If the tubing looks damaged, get a replacement from your oxygen supplier.

There is also a concentrator filter. Clean it once a month. Take it out and dunk it into a clean container that’s filled with water and mild dish soap. Scrub with a washcloth to get rid of any dirt or dust, then rinse it under water to remove any soap residue. Lay the filter on a dry, clean towel and let it air dry completely before you put it back in the concentrator

Portable Oxygen Concentrators

Portable Oxygen Concentrators (POCS), are light, small and quiet devices that allow you to receive supplemental oxygen while out of the home.Either strap it to your back or pull it behind you on wheels. You’ll need a tube with a maximum length of 7 feet to deliver the oxygen. POCs run on either regular electricity or batteries. You can charge them anywhere, even in a car. You don’t have to refill them, and you can take them where they’re needed.

If you need oxygen in flight, you must take a portable oxygen concentrator with you, and , you must let your airline know ahead of time. They may require a doctor’s letter to verify the need for the POC on the plane. If you don’t own a POC, you may rent one for travel, either through your oxygen supplier or through websites.

Portable oxygen concentrators can provide oxygen via continuous flow, pulse flow or a combination of the two.

If you want to buy or rent a POC you should be informed about the differences between Pulse and Continuous Flow.

Continuous Flow

Continuous flow machines supply the patient with a continuous supply of oxygen, preferred by some patients who have very poor respiratory effort and a low oxygen level although some oxygen is wasted while the patient is exhaling and the supply can be used up quickly but do offer the patient mobility and freedom. With continuous-flow, oxygen delivery is measured in LPM (liters per minute). 

Pulse flow

The pulse flow POC provides a ‘pulse’ of oxygen each time you inhale. Oxygen concentration processing won’t stop no matter continuous flow or pulse flow.
Pulse flow machine take full advantage of people exhale time. Pulse flow has a storage system inside of machine. When people exhale, storage system will stock oxygen and stop delivering oxygen out. There is a sensor to detect people inhale action. When people inhale, sensor will activate and deliver storage oxygen out.

Oxygen Safety

Oxygen concentrators have the advantage of not being as dangerous as oxygen cylinders, which can, if ruptured or leaking, greatly increase the combustion rate of fire. As such, oxygen concentrators are particularly advantageous in military or disaster situations, where oxygen tanks may be dangerous or unfeasible.

Oxygen does not burn, but it does support combustion. So, anything that can burn will burn much faster in an oxygen-rich environment.

Oxygen should never be used near an open flame or anything that can produce intense heat, flames or sparks, such as a burning cigarette, a lighted match, heaters, heating pads, hair dryers, a stove or a pilot light. Anything that can produce hot flames or sparks during operation should be kept at least 5 feet away from your oxygen equipment. The highest safe temperature for an oxygen tank is 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
Do not use oil, grease, Vaseline or any other flammable substance on your oxygen equipment or on your skin near the equipment. Use water-based products only.
If frost forms on your liquid oxygen equipment, don’t allow the frosted parts to come into contact with your skin. It can cause a frostbite skin injury.
Store cylinders in an upright position and secured in an approved cart or other storage device.
If you are using a humidifier, use only the recommended type and amount of water. Due to increase in back pressure and resistance to flow, disposable humidifier bottles should not be used for oxygen flows greater than 6 liters per minute. There are humidifier bottles available for higher oxygen flows.

(USA) If you experienced a problem or injury that you think may be related to an oxygen concentrator, you can voluntarily report it through the FDA’s MedWatch program.

Oxygen Concentrators with Higher Oxygen Flows

Rates of 4 liters/minute or greater are considered higher oxygen flow.

Liquid systems deliver higher flows of oxygen for longer periods of time. Unfortunately, it is getting more difficult to obtain liquid oxygen systems.
Oxygen conserving devices may not deliver enough oxygen. Continuous flows are better for flow rates above 4 liters/minute.
There are high-flow stationary concentrators that go up to 10 liters/minute.
For oxygen settings higher than 6 liters/minute, a high flow nasal cannula is needed.
Certain oxygen face masks and reservoir cannulas can boost the delivery of oxygen and make high oxygen flows more comfortable.

Due to the increase in back pressure and resistance to flow, disposable humidifier bottles are not recommended for flows greater than 6 liters/min

Even though oxygen makes up about 21 percent of the air around us, breathing high concentrations of oxygen may damage your lungs. On the other hand, not getting enough oxygen into the blood, a condition called hypoxia, could damage the heart, brain, and other organs.

Find out if you really need oxygen therapy by checking with your health care provider. If you do, your health care provider can determine how much oxygen you should take and for how long.

Deciding to use an oxygen concentrator without a prescription can lead to serious health problems, such as oxygen toxicity caused by receiving too much oxygen. It can also lead to a delay in receiving treatment for serious conditions like COVID-19.

You may have seen oxygen concentrators for sale online without a prescription. At this time, the FDA has not approved or cleared any oxygen concentrators to be sold or used without a prescription

Tips for using the equipment

Oxygen Concentrators need plenty of air circulating around them. Put them in a well-ventilated
spot, rather than a cupboard or confined space. If placing a concentrator near a
window, make sure curtains do not stop the concentrator from drawing in the air it
needs. Concentrators should not be placed in bathrooms or in any area that liquid
could be spilled on them. Use an extension tubing when accessing wet areas.
Concentrators should be located at least 15cm from the wall.
Open a window for ventilation
You should plug your concentrator directly into a Power point. Do not use extension
cords, double adapters, or power boards

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