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An oxygen concentrator is used to provide supplemental oxygen for individuals requiring oxygen therapy. This can include those suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Severe Chronic Hypoxemia, Pulmonary Edema, and more. Oxygen therapy can also be used to treat those with severe Sleep Apnea and can be used simultaneously with CPAP therapy. 

Individuals can receive oxygen therapy through the use of an oxygen concentrator or an oxygen tank. Oxygen tanks can hold compressed OR liquid oxygen. Both varieties will provide ~99.5% pure oxygen. They only hold a specific amount of oxygen and need to be refilled once emptied. This may make it more difficult for those in remote areas or those travelling. There are different sizes of oxygen tanks, however, the smaller tanks contain a lower volume of oxygen. This can bring anxiety to patients and may cause them to look towards the use of a portable or stationary oxygen concentrator. 

In comparison, an oxygen concentrator intakes room air and filters the air to remove dust, bacteria, and other particulates. One of the sieve bed cylinders is used to filter and absorb the nitrogen to increase oxygen concentration. The other sieve bed cylinder operates in reverse – nitrogen is desorbed and returned into the environment. This provides a continuous flow of concentrated oxygen to the patient. Concentrators can provide anywhere between 90- to ~95% oxygen. 

Some common stationary oxygen concentrators include the EverFlo Q and Millennium M10. The EverFlo Q can provide up to 5LPM of oxygen and the Millennium M10 can provide up to 10LPM of oxygen. These are also known as “home oxygen concentrators” as they have been designed for that purpose. They typically have wheels for easy transport throughout the home environment.

Millennium M10 Stationary Oxygen Concentrator
Millennium M10 Stationary Oxygen Concentrator

Some common portable oxygen concentrators include the SimplyGo Portable Oxygen Concentrator and the SimplyGo MINI Portable Oxygen Concentrator. You can often purchase extended batteries for these machines for when you don’t have access to power. They are much smaller and will typically offer <5LPM. The SimplyGo Portable offers both continuous flow at 2LPM and pulse settings. The SimplyGo Mini only offers pulse settings to choose from. They are a good option for those who are constantly on-the-go or travelling. 

SimplyGo Portable Oxygen Concentrator
SimplyGo Portable Oxygen Concentrator

Oxygen concentrators are meant to last between four to seven years or more. This is dependent on how often the machine is used and the maintenance performed. It is recommended that the gross particle filter be cleaned weekly and replaced entirely every two years. Environments with more dirt or dust may see a need to replace this more frequently. Sieve beds are recommended to be professionally changed between one to two years (dependent on the manufacturer). Remember to replace nasal cannulas every two-four weeks and oxygen tubing every few months and clean equipment weekly. Oxygen concentrators require minimum maintenance, however, if an alarm sounds or oxygen concentration is below 90%, it is recommended that you have a trained professional service the concentrator. You can have your concentrator serviced every three-months.

Oxygen concentrators are a cost-effective and sustainable method for oxygen therapy. They are preferred over oxygen tanks as there is no need for oxygen refills and can be used anywhere. Oxygen concentrators require very minimal maintenance and rarely need servicing. Remember to use the pressure prescribed to you by a physician and never change the pressure without guidance from a medical professional.