COVID-19: Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use an oxygen concentrator at home

COVID-19: Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use an oxygen concentrator at home
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(Disclaimer: This should not be considered medical advice. Please check with medical practitioners on exact procedures.)

  • Oxygen concentrators are the best alternative solution when there is an acute shortage of oxygen cylinders.
  • The role of oxygen cylinders or oxygen concentrators is to fulfill the oxygen needs of patients who aren’t able to get the desired amount on their own.
  • Here is a step-by-step guide on how to setup an oxygen concentrator at home.
As the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc in the country, one of the most pressing concerns has been the shortage of oxygen supply to treat COVID positive patients. There is a high demand for oxygen cylinders and concentrators to critically save lives of people.

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Oxygen concentrators are the best alternative solution when there is an acute shortage of oxygen cylinders. People who are in dire need of oxygen can set up an oxygen concentrator at home without any hassle. It doesn’t need to be refilled or replaced. However, one should use it only if a doctor prescribes it to you.

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How does an Oxygen concentrator work?
The role of oxygen cylinders or oxygen concentrators is to fulfill the oxygen needs of patients who aren’t able to get the desired amount on their own. Oxygen concentrators work the same way as oxygen cylinders. It is also a medical device to pump up the oxygen from ambient air.

Oxygen concentrators suck air from the environment and remove the unwanted gases like nitrogen, concentrate oxygen and pump it through the pipe of patients, so that they can breathe pure oxygen. Concentrators can supply at least 5-10 litres of oxygen per day.

Using oxygen concentrators has some advantages -- they are portable and have a continuous power source; they can work 24x7 and don't need to be replaced or refilled.
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Here is a step-by-step guide on how to setup an oxygen concentrator at home --

  1. Oxygen concentrators should be placed at least 1-2 feet away from a wall because it needs enough space to circulate the air and tends to get hot upon continuous use.
  2. Join the humidification bottle if your doctor has prescribed it to you. A humidification bottle is prescribed if the oxygen flow rate is greater than 2-3 litres per minute.
  3. Connect the oxygen tubing to the humidification bottle or an adaptor. If you’re using a humidification bottle, insert your oxygen tubing into the port on the bottle or if you’re using an oxygen adaptor, attach the tubing to it in the same way. Use distilled water or filtered water only in the humidification bottle. Distilled water is the water which has been through the process of distillation i.e boiling the water and capturing the steam which rises from the water and allows the steam to condense. Whereas in reverse osmosis (RO), the water molecules are allowed to pass through but not the contaminants.
  4. The concentrator will have an air filter that concentrates clean air, make sure you place that filter before using the machine. It should be washed at least once a week with warm water only and use it after it gets dried.
  5. Start your oxygen concentrator at least 10-15 minutes prior using it as it takes a little while for the device to concentrate pure oxygen.
  6. Don’t use extension cord to plug in the concentrator as it requires a lot of power to function and might risk fire as well.
  7. You will hear the sound of processing once you switch it on. Always make sure to check the light which indicates that the device is working properly.
  8. Before using it, locate the litre control knob which may be marked with litres per minute (LPM) such as 1, 2, 3. Set the knob to prescribed LPM. If not sure, please consult your doctor for clarification.
  9. Please ensure that the tubing doesn’t have any kinks or bends as it may hamper the oxygen supply and also make sure there are no gaps in the sides of your mask you’re using to breathe.
  10. In case if you’re using a nasal cannula, adjust it upwards into your nostrils for high levels of oxygen.
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