Patients with acute pulmonary conditions and chronic lung diseases often require the support of oxygen therapy – which is a treatment process that ensures the human body has the right level of oxygen in it. For patients having impaired lung function, portable oxygen concentrators (POC) is a lifesaver, as it gives them the flexibility to get concentrated oxygen while on the go.
How do Portable Oxygen Concentrators work?
The air that we breathe has composed three-fourth of nitrogen and only one-fourth of oxygen. Portable Oxygen Concentrators change this composition and make concentrated oxygen available to the patient. The Portable oxygen concentrators are small light devices which draw in ambient air with the help of electricity, battery or DC power.
In Portable Oxygen Concentrators the air is passed through a molecular sieve or chemical filters which are made up of silicate granules also known as Zeolite. This is the region where maximum of the nitrogen is absorbed. That increases the oxygen concentration of the air. Through the valves, the concentrated oxygen is released in the nasal ducts or the cannula which is connected to the nose of the patient. This is how a portable oxygen concentrator helps a patient to breathe in oxygen-rich air and maintain the oxygen level that was earlier reduced in the body.
You can get different models of these portable oxygen concentrators. Some of the differentiating features will be like the size and the weight of the concentrators (although they will be light enough to be portable), nature of flow – either pulse or on-demand flow or continuous flow and the point of how energy is being provided to the device.
However, prior to buying the product, there are certain aspects of the device which must be clear to you. This will help you to maintain and manage the device well and draw an optimum performance out of it.
How many hours do portable oxygen concentrators last?
A portable oxygen concentrator offers you a reliable supply of oxygen-rich breathing air while you are away from your home. As these devices run on power, you must have a clear idea of how long your portable oxygen concentrator will serve you once you are out for a road trip, an air travel plan or out doing some simple activities like shopping, taking a walk or just spending some time out with your friends and family.
This is one of the aspects that are directly related to your health and well being, being a patient on oxygen therapy treatment. Now to answer the question, it really depends on the model and the design of your POC, the capacity of your battery and your prescription along with the dose in which the oxygen is being administered to you.
If you are on a pulse flow or an on-demand mode the oxygen will be released only when you are inhaling. While you exhale the flow remains cut out. However, in a continuous flow, a constant supply of oxygen is maintained whether you are inhaling or not. Such continuous flow is prescribed while a patient is sleeping or when a patient requires more oxygen concentration. Albeit, in a continuous flow much greater amount of power, is consumed and the battery life is exhausted faster as compared to the pulse flow mode.
Generally speaking, once fully charged a portable oxygen concentrator can comfortably operate continuously for seven to eight hours. When you are travelling on road trips or flight journey be sure to carry a portable oxygen concentrator which can accommodate extendable battery life. It is also advisable that you carry either an AC or a DC charging point that will allow you to charge up the device if the hours of travelling get extended. When buying a portable oxygen concentrator with a larger battery, be sure to balance the elements of battery life and the weight of the device.
How often does an oxygen concentrator need to be serviced?
An average portable oxygen concentrator lasts for a span of three to six years. During this period whether you receive optimum performance out of the model or not depends on how well you maintain the device. Ideally, users of the POC machines and caregivers of patients must get their devices serviced professionally once every three months.
At home, you can clean the filters once every two weeks. How often this cleaning and changing of the filters must be done will depend on the amount of dust in the air where the portable oxygen concentrator is working. The portable oxygen concentrator machines do not operate too well in very dusty ambience.
What is the smallest portable oxygen concentrator?
The AirSep Focus by Chart is the smallest and the most lightweight portable oxygen concentrator available in the contemporary market. It weighs a mere 0.8kg/1.75 lb and has an external dimension of 4.8” x 2.5” x 6.4”. The machine comes with a cutting edge technology that allows it to accommodate pulse dose of two that happens to be adequate for most patients along with the CAIRE’s UltraSense technology which ensures that the machine does not miss even a single breath of the patient.
What is the weight of a portable oxygen concentrator?
The weight of a POC will vary from model to model and from one size to another. They vary from 4 lbs to 45 lbs. The size and the weight difference due to the battery size, internal filters and so on.
At the time of buying these machines consult your doctor, who can give you the best idea of what type of machine will be ideal for you. He can advise you regarding the checkpoints that must be borne in mind at the time of buying these POCs.
Once you have decided on your treatment plan, also consider asking these four questions to understand which portable oxygen concentrator suits you best!