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How to Set Up Your Home Oxygen Concentrator

While breathing is one of the most natural processes of the body, some may need a little extra help with it. This could be the result of respiratory disease. These diseases include COPD or lung diseases and reduce the capacity of the lungs. 

To remedy this, doctors often prescribe patients with breathing problems to start oxygen therapy. While many other methods can be used to supplement oxygen, setting up a home oxygen concentrator is one of the easiest. 

All you have to do is fit all the parts together. But after fiddling around with the parts for a while, you realize that you have no idea how to set it up at all. This raises a question: how do you set up a home oxygen concentrator? Let's find out. 

What is Home Oxygen Therapy?

Most patients need to visit a hospital to receive oxygen therapy to meet their daily oxygen requirements. However, this is inconvenient in the long run. To make things easier and more convenient for these patients, home oxygen therapy was introduced. 

Doctors prescribe oxygen therapy to patients who cannot inhale sufficient oxygen. The natural environment around us is made of 21% of oxygen. However, oxygen concentrators supply oxygen at a rate of 100%. 

The duration for which a patient might need oxygen therapy also varies. Some patients with progressive respiratory illnesses may need to use an oxygen concentrator the entire day. Other patients recovering from infections may only need oxygen therapy for some hours every day. 

Parts Of A Home Oxygen Concentrator

1. Oxygen Concentrator

Your oxygen concentrator absorbs oxygen from the atmosphere. It then purifies and filters the oxygen absorbed. This absorbed oxygen is supplied to the patient at a 100% concentration. 

2. Humidification Bottle 

For some patients, long durations of oxygen therapy can dry up the nasal passages. Because of this, a humidification bottle is attached to the oxygen concentrator. Its function is to moisten the air that the patient is inhaling. 

It is important to note here that the humidification bottle should be filled with distilled water only. This is because minerals in regular tap water can crystallize in the tubing causing distress to the patient. 

3. Nasal Cannula 

A nasal cannula is plastic tubing with a specialized nozzle for your nose. Once the oxygen concentrator is set up, the patient should wear the tubing with the nozzle fitted snugly under their nose. Then the patient can relax as they receive their oxygen therapy. 

It can uncoil to stretch to around fifty feet. This gives you the liberty to move around your house and complete household chores at a mild pace. 

Be careful not to trip over this tubing. Wrap the tubing up when you're sitting, and the complete length is not required. 

4. Oxygen Flow Rate

The oxygen flow rate is basically the air volume that your home oxygen concentrator should supply to you per minute. It is denoted with lpm (liters per minute). The doctor prescribes the oxygen flow rate according to the patient's oxygen requirements. 

It is strongly advised to set the flow settings for your oxygen concentrator correctly. If you are concerned that it might not be enough/ too much for you, refer to your doctor before making any changes.

Setting Up Your Oxygen Concentrator

Once you've brought the prescribed home oxygen concentrator home, the real work begins. It is necessary to set up the machinery correctly. 

Sit down in front of a wall outlet or plug and take out the machinery and its accessories one by one. Do not throw out anything at this point. 

1. Place The Device At Least Two Feet Away From The Walled Outlet

Your oxygen concentrator will absorb oxygen and exude some filtered-out waste materials. It needs the space to do that. Make sure that the space where you plug the concentrator in is not cluttered. 

The oxygen concentrator can also heat up, so it needs space away from the outlet to stay cooled down. If the concentrator becomes too hot, it can even become a fire hazard. Inflammable objects near the concentrators can catch fire. 

2. Connect the humidification bottle (if advised by the doctor)

Humidification bottles are typically recommended for patients with a continuous oxygen therapy requirement. These patients have an oxygen prescription of more than 3 lpm and need additional moisture. 

Once the concentrator is set up, check to see if you have a humidifier bottle. In most devices, this bottle needs to be attached to the side of the machine near the settings panel. 

Unscrew the cap of the bottle and fill it with distilled water only. Then screw the cap back on and attach it to the humidifier. The cap can usually be plugged into the side of the machine. Make sure the bottle is attached correctly and won't loosen up during usage. 

Make sure the bottle is washed every time to use the machine. 

3. Fasten The Oxygen Tubing To The Concentrator

  1. Oxygen Concentrator with Humidification Bottle:  There is a separate port on the humidification bottle attached to the oxygen tubing. Fasten the tubing to this port.
  2. Oxygen Concentrator without Humidification Bottle: If your device did not come with a humidification bottle, there is most likely a small adaptor where the bottle should have been. This adaptor is called the Christmas tree adaptor. You need to fasten your oxygen tubing to this adaptor. 

Typically, the tubing can be easily attached to the concentrator because there is a separate adaptor to fasten it to. However, the method might vary according to the oxygen concentrator you are using. It is best to consult your instruction manual to be sure how to conduct this step.

4. Position Your Air Filter In The Correct Position

Located on the side of the machine is a small window where the air filter is placed. This air filter acts as a sieve, filtering out dust particles in the oxygen that the concentrator is absorbing. 

Because the oxygen inhaled by the patient must be pure, the air filter needs to be functioning properly. You should also check that the filter is correctly placed each time you plug in the machine. 

The filter should also be gently washed once a week with lukewarm water. Squeeze out any water it might have absorbed and let it air-dry before placing it in the machine again.

Operating The Home Oxygen Concentrator

1. Turning The Oxygen Concentrator On

The at-home oxygen concentrator needs to be plugged in and turned on around 25 minutes before it is actually used. It takes the concentrator some time to get its internal cycle ready and start absorbing oxygen. 

Plan the operation of the oxygen concentrator. For example, if you need to get your oxygen therapy at 10 am, make sure it is plugged in and running at 9:30 am. 

When turning on the machine, you also need to be sure of the pulse settings you have to set the machine on. Make sure that you use the flow settings the doctor has prescribed. 

2. Plug Into An Outlet Not In Use Otherwise

Your oxygen concentrator is a heavy-duty machine. It will draw up a lot of power. Make sure it is plugged in a walled outlet that is not being used by any other devices. Using an extension or a power outlet board should be avoided. 

Make sure the outlet is fully functioning and provides ample voltage at all times. Also, make sure that the plug is not straining to be attached to the outlet. It should be a comfortable, easy fit. 

Try to use a grounded outlet as it presents the least risk of a fire. It also typically consists of a three-prong outlet needed for the three-pin plug of the oxygen concentrator. 

3. Switch the oxygen concentrator on. 

Turn the "On/Off" button on the oxygen concentrator to make it start to run. There might also be a "Start" button on oxygen concentrators of some varieties. Both perform the same function. 

Even the best home oxygen concentrators will produce quite a lot of noise (sort of like a loud buzz) when it is running. Your machine making that noise is a sign that it is working. 

4. Check If The Machine Is Sounding An Alarm

Your oxygen concentrator will sound an alarm whenever it is plugged in and turned on. It is a message from the machine that it has started the process of absorbing the machine. The alarm lasts for only a few seconds. 

Make sure that the oxygen concentrator is plugged in at all times when in use. The device is engineered to inform you if it isn't correctly plugged in or there is an electricity breakdown. Most oxygen concentrators sound a beeping alarm. 

This alarm can also make you aware that the machine is running when you do not want it to. Keep your ears peeled for the alarm. 

5. Adjusting the Flow Of Oxygen

The oxygen flow settings can be changed by turning the knob on the sides of the machine. It is usually labeled 1, 2, 3, and so on to signify the liters per minute or lpm of oxygen being supplied. 

It is essential not to use guesswork to set the pulse settings. This means that the flow settings should be exactly what the doctor prescribed. 

You can adjust the flow settings by turning the knob. It can be turned by one, and you can see the needle move to the figure you need it to be. 

Wearing the Nasal Cannula

1. Check The Tubing For Flaws

Tubing in the packaging for the oxygen concentrator is typically new and flawless. However, it is good to be cautious and inspect the tubing anyway. Check for any nicks or tiny holes in the tubing. 

Bends in the oxygen tubing can prevent you from receiving the correct supply and flow of oxygen. 

2. Fit Nasal Cannula Correctly For To Receive Oxygen Correctly

Fit each prong of the nasal cannula to each of your two nostrils. They should fit incorrectly – almost like an insertion. Once placed correctly, loop the tubing around your ears and move the tube adjustor in a way that makes the placement of the nasal tubing comfortable. 

You can tell if the nasal tubing and the prongs are delivering oxygen by placing it in water. If the water around the prong has bubbles forming, it means that the prongs are working correctly. 

3. Breathe Through The Nasal Cannula

Breathe to your cannula with purpose. While this arrangement may take a little while to get used to, it can become an easy part of your daily routine. 

Try to breathe as regularly as you would without the machinery. Use the machine for the recommended duration. Try to sit and relax for the therapy to make an ample impact on you. 

4. Make Sure You Turn The Machine Off When It's Not In Use

When you have received the at-home therapy you required, turn the machine off. Press the "Off" or "Stop" button, depending on the machine's make or model. 

The benefits of turning on the machine as soon as you are done are threefold:

  1. The oxygen concentrator uses a lot of power which will show up in your eventual electricity bills. It is best to keep these bills low.
  2. The oxygen concentrator can also heat up very quickly. If you live in a place where temperatures tend to run high, this can also become a fire hazard. 
  3. The oxygen concentrator tends to make a lot of noise when in use. Turning it off will give you and your family some time away from the ceaseless drone of the machine. 

Tips To Use Your At-Home Oxygen Concentrator

  1. Do Not Allow People To Smoke In Your Home: While oxygen is not an inflammable gas, it actively supports combustion. This means that it encourages fires. Smoking is a fire hazard.
  2. Do Not Use The Machine Near Wood Or Curtains: Furniture made out of wood and frilly curtains can catch fire easily. Make sure these are not getting in the way. 
  3. Clean Your At-Home Oxygen Concentrator Regularly: Clean your machinery along with its equipment once every week. Use sterile, lukewarm water and mild, odorless liquid soap.

Conclusion

Setting up a home oxygen concentrator isn't hard. The assembly time is the only part of the process that will take time. But even this part can be made easy if you use the manual that comes with the machine. All you need to do is arm yourself with patience and then forge on and assemble your concentrator together. In less than half an hour, you can set up your own portable oxygen concentrator at home without any hassle at all.