As you may know, many people find that wearing oxygen, even if it’s just a night, can help improve their quality of life by helping to relieve symptoms associated with insufficient oxygen levels throughout the body. At one time, oxygen was thought to be beneficial to people who were very sick and to help solve end of life issues. More recent information has proven that use of oxygen in those patients with “low” oxygen levels, can actually improve health, especially if patients begin using it in the earlier stages of respiratory disease. Studies show that low oxygen levels treated early enough can help decrease the deterioration of the body. Just like the right amount of water is vital for a healthy plant, continuous and proper amounts of oxygen are important in order to feel good each day. New options in home oxygen delivery systems make it easy to provide oxygen for even the most active people. Ask your doctor to check and see if you have low oxygen levels.

In addition, changes have been taking place regarding payment for oxygen equipment. Due to Medicare and other insurance guidelines, moving to a new part of the country, changing physicians or changing oxygen providers, poses challenges that require careful consideration. AeroCare can help you with these decisions and assist you in determining your options if you find yourself in one of these difficult situations. The new 5 year rule on oxygen equipment for Medicare patients allows oxygen users to get brand new high tech equipment to replace their old oxygen system at the end of 60 months. Ask you local AeroCare representative if you qualify for new replacement equipment under your insurance or to clarify the coverage for your respiratory equipment.

What is an Oxygen Concentrator?

An oxygen concentrator is a machine that plugs in to the wall electrical outlet. The concentrator takes room air and passes it through the filtering system in the machine and converts it to more pure oxygen. In other words, it circulates the room air through and changes it from regular room air (around 21% oxygen) to around 95% oxygen. These machines can be run 24 hours per day, seven days a week, 365 days per year.

Because these are machines, the company providing the machine for you should perform routine checks (usually monthly or so) to make sure that the machine is performing as it should. These machines have factory recommendations regarding service and maintenance. You may be required to clean one of the filters of your concentrator on a weekly basis. If this is needed, the company providing your equipment will show you how to perform this task.

The company providing the machine for you should follow the manufacturers guidelines regarding the appropriate service and maintenance schedule for the machine.

The machine has a small “port” to which the patient attaches a “nasal cannula” or oxygen tubing. The oxygen flows from the machine to the patient and the prescribed liter flow. It is important that the patient not tamper with the prescribed flow rate because increasing the flow rate could actually be harmful to the patient. (Some patient’s condition can actually be made much worse by increasing the flow rate.)

Since the air coming out of the oxygen concentrator is the same temperature as room air, some patients feel that it is not as effective as oxygen coming out of the a tank. Rest assured that the effectiveness is virtually the same. In some cases a humidifier bottle is placed on the oxygen concentrator to help with humidification of the air. Sometimes this helps with the comfort level of the patient. However, these humidifier bottles must be cleaned daily in order to prevent them from clogging.

If the humidifier becomes clogged, they often cause the concentrator to malfunction and/or even set off the alarm or cause the concentrator to shut off. It is also best, if using a humidifier, to use distilled water when filling the bottle to help prevent any clogging that might occur. There is a line on the bottle to show how full to fill the bottle. Filling the bottle too full can cause the concentrator to malfunction. Remember! Daily cleaning and distilled water.

Oxygen Concentrator Electricity Usage

The amount of electricity that these units use is minimal. They use about the same amount of electricity as a refrigerator.

Oxygen Concentrator Accessories

Different brands of concentrators have different accessories. The company providing your concentrator should give you all of the information about your unit so that you feel comfortable with knowing about the use of your machine and any alarms or signals that would require attention.

NOTE: Usually when a company provides this type of unit, portable units are also provided in case of a power outage or machine malfunction.

For information regarding portable units, see the page on Portable Oxygen.