Oxygen Concentrator : Read before you order one !

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COVID19 has increased the demand of Oxygen Concentrator. Those who can afford it are placing their orders online to get one as soon as possible. But how good is it to purchase it and keep it at home for emergency usage. Do these Oxygen Concentrator make it a better purchase than using Oxygen cylinder.   

Understanding Oxygen Concentrator

Oxygen Concentrator captures the oxygen from atmosphere by using electricity. They come in different sizes depending on their oxygen generation capacity per minute. 5 LPM (litre per minute) Oxygen Concentrator are most common in market now a days. However they are available in more capacity (LPM) as well if you are ready to spend more.

  • Oxygen Capacity: More capacity means that you will get around 10 LPM, but now you need to know about oxygen concentration. Some good Oxygen Concentrator allow the user to control the oxygen flow from 0.1 LPM to its maximum capacity. But some Oxygen Concentrator don't provide this control and they are known as "Single Flow Oxygen Concentrator". 
  • Oxygen Concentration: Our atmosphere contain 21% oxygen, 78% nitrogen and 1% other gases. Oxygen Concentrator filters the oxygen from air, and gives an output that contain minimum 90% oxygen. More oxygen percentage means better Oxygen Concentrator. But some cheap Oxygen Concentrators that provide 8 to 10 LPM output, actually have just 50% oxygen concentration. Such cheap Oxygen Concentrator are of no use when you actually need them.
  • Power Input and backup: This is a major feature that should be taken seriously. Most of the Oxygen Concentrator use a simple power input socket to get electricity, but you should not purchase such device if your residential area faces power outages. In such case you should purchase one that contain an inbuilt battery and have a backup of around 4 hours.
  • Flow: "Pulse dose" and "continuous flow" are two types of flow provided in Oxygen Concentrators. Some high-end devices contain both types of flow. Most of the Oxygen Concentrators available in market are "continuous flow". As the name suggests "Continuous flow" means continuous flow flow of oxygen, while "pulse dose" means that the devices senses the inhale and exhale of patient and provides oxygen flow accordingly. Which one suits your need can be better explained by your doctor.
  • Portability: Portable oxygen concentrator comes with power backup and are usually lighter in weight, so that they can be carried like a backpack. Portable Oxygen Concentrator usually have less capacity in LPM.

Condition of patient and Oxygen Concentrator

Normal SpO2 level in humans is 95 to 100. If it goes below 94 then you may need oxygen. Only stable patients, whose SpO2 level is above 80 are considered appropriate for using a normal Oxygen Concentrator, as such patients only need 4-5 litres of oxygen per minute. If oxygen saturation falls below 80 then you may need either a better Oxygen Concentrator with more LPM or an oxygen cylinder.

How to know if your Oxygen Concentrator is working for you ?

If your oxygen saturation level increases after using Oxygen Concentrator then it means that its working for you. But if oxygen level continue decreasing then you need to hurry as now you need a bed in hospital with proper oxygen supply.

Oxygen Concentrator are not meant for emergency usage unless it has very high LPM capability. If your oxygen level falls even after using one then it means that its not enough and you need immediate medical attention in a hospital.

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