An oxygen concentrator works in much the same way as the sieve you use when sifting through flour or preparing your morning coffee if you use coffee beans. It takes away what you do not need and leaves you with what is essential.
Most of these devices are made up of two cylinders each containing zeolite. Zeolite is used to absorb the nitrogen content in the normal ‘ambient’ air we all breathe, leaving air that is largely made up of oxygen for actual intake. The ambient air is compressed and fed into the two chambers containing the cylinders in alternating rhythm, which means that at any given time there is a constant flow of oxygen rich air being supplied. Natural air comprises approximately 80% nitrogen and 20% oxygen, the device takes out this 80% nitrogen, leaving almost 100% pure oxygen (actual figure is between 85% – 95% oxygen).
An oxygen concentrator may be used in the home setting to supply oxygen to an individual undergoing oxygen therapy or even in some industrial and military settings to provide oxygen to pilots during actual flight scenarios and especially during combat.
In an industrial setting, oxygen needs to be provided at a greatly increased pressure than the medical setting. If you are shopping for an industrial oxygen concentrator you need to be clear when doing your research, because some manufacturers refer to industrial oxygen concentrators as oxygen generators which is erroneous, considering that these devices do not generate oxygen per se. The distinction is largely intended to indicate that the industrial concentrators are not FDA vetted for bedside use.
One immediate advantage of using an this is that, unlike the more traditional and common oxygen tank, it cannot burst into flames. This is because the oxygen generated is immediately channeled to the patient while the cylinder which generates the oxygen is not filled with more compressed oxygen, but rather nitrogen, which is released harmlessly into the air with every cycle of oxygen concentration.
Another thing to take note of when preparing to purchase oxygen concentrators for yourself or a loved one is the usability of the device. Most oxygen concentrators are easy to operate and usually involve a simple matter of flipping a switch. Despite that, it may be advisable to confirm the model features, including whether or not it has a gauge to monitor flow, concentration of the air being produced and whether it has a system in place for alerting the user to replace the Zeolite cylinders with fresh ones.
As with all medical devices, it is advisable to consult with your doctor before purchasing an oxygen concentrator. Your doctor may shed some helpful insight in terms of which model best suits the patient and how exactly to use it, in terms of the amount of time each session should be restricted to and when exactly you should stop administering the oxygen therapy.
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