One of the most significant advantages of oxygen concentrators is the lack of those bulky, heavy and conspicuous oxygen tanks. Instead of dragging around an oxygen tank, your concentrator provides oxygen in a mobile, discreet, and powerful unit. That convenience does come with some small maintenance, but cleaning and maintaining an oxygen concentrator is straightforward and simple — including the all-important filter.
You can keep your portable oxygen concentrator working at peak performance for as long as it should, by taking proper care of it. It should be treated just like any other electronic piece of equipment. Since you need it to help keep you healthy, it should be treated with even more care.
Despite how dependable and sturdy they are, you have to remember that they are only electronics and need to be maintained from time to time, and protected the way you would protect a cell phone or a camcorder. You also have to make sure you keep it clean and in top working order, because you need it to keep you healthy. Maintaining the right amount of oxygen in your blood is extremely important, because every cell in your body needs oxygen.
Many concentrators have gross particle filters that need replaced every 2 years. Read your owners manual that came with your portable oxygen concentrator to see how often it will need changed, so you can purchase a new one and have it on hand when you are supposed to replace it. Some concentrators will have a light or alarm that goes off when it is time to change the filter. The gross particle filter is important because it filters the larger particles that are in the air that you don't want to breathe in. You can replace this filter yourself, by following the directions in the owners manual.
Many health professionals and the American Association for Respiratory Care, believe that most of the time, humidifiers on oxygen concentrators are unnecessary, and conclude that only those using a flow of 4 LPM or higher need it. You might feel otherwise if you think your airways are getting dryer during the winter or the dryer months of the year. Some people also say that the humidifiers for oxygen concentrators don't produce enough moisture for it to count. If you are on the go with your portable oxygen machine and you feel dry, then there is a need for it.
The cabinet filters, other wise known as the intake filter, are made so that you don't have to replace them very often. The filter that came with your oxygen concentrator, depending on how often you use it, will last you anywhere from 6 to 12 months.
You will, however, need to keep it clean so that the machine will continue working properly. In most oxygen concentrators, this filter is easy to remove from the machine and easy to clean. It's important to keep this oxygen concentrator filter clean at all times not only to protect the machine, but to prevent things like hair, dust and dirt debris from entering the machine to be breathed in.
Your oxygen concentrator, whether it is one that stays in your home or a portable oxygen concentrator that travels with you, you will need to perform some basic maintenance and upkeep. You depend on your unit to keep you healthy and keep providing that oxygen that your body needs to survive, so you must make sure that it will work the way it's supposed to for as long as possible. Your oxygen concentrator is an investment in your life.
Preventative maintenance is simple, and you can do it yourself under most circumstances. Things like the cabinet filter, HEPA filter and humidifier are all made to be easily accessed and maintenance by almost anyone. Many oxygen concentrators are designed to require maintenance no more than once or twice a year.
by Lori Peters, RRT, AMSR Respiratory Therapist
People on oxygen therapy are typically more susceptible to respiratory viruses and bacteria. With the winter months fast-approaching, ensuring that your nasal cannula is germ-free is even more important AND good common sense!
Simply wipe down the part (prongs) that inserts into your nose, as well as the seven-foot length of tube that connects to it, with an alcohol swab once a day. If you’re on oxygen 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it might be easier for you to have two cannulas at all times—one to use while the other is being wiped down and allowed to dry.