What Is An Oxygen Concentrator And What Do They Do?

What Is An Oxygen Concentrator And What Do They Do?

An oxygen concentrator is a medical appliance that delivers oxygen to those who suffer from various health conditions that cause the oxygen levels in the blood to drop too low. These devices purify and concentrate the ambient air and deliver a continuous supply of concentrated oxygen to the person in need of it. Oxygen concentrators require a power supply to operate.

Conditions like asthma, COPD, Covid-19, influenza and lung cancer, can all cause a patient to need the assistance of an oxygen concentrator.

A doctor needs to prescribe the use of an oxygen concentrator so that the correct dosage of oxygen can be administered to the patient.

Typically, an oxygen concentrator supplies between 5 and 10 liters per minute of pure oxygen.


How Does An Oxygen Concentrator Work?

An oxygen concentrator is made up of a compressor, a sieve bed filter and various circuit boards. A thin tube delivers the oxygen from the concentrator to the patients face via two open prongs that are placed below the nostrils. Some patients use a facemask – this delivers a greater flow and concentration of oxygen.

These small oxygen generators suck in ambient air via the compressor and adjusts the pressure, it filters and concentrates oxygen molecules from the air and supplies the patient with 90% pure oxygen. The nitrogen that is separated from the ambient air is released back into the air. A pressure valve regulates the oxygen supply.


Types of Oxygen Concentrators

There are two types of concentrators available – a larger one you can use at home and a smaller, portable one.


Portable Units

  • Made to travel with you
  • Lighter than stationary units
  • Battery powered
  • Pulse dose oxygen


Stationary Units

  • Made to stay in one place
  • Powered by electricity
  • Continuous flow oxygen




Is an oxygen concentrator the same as an oxygen tank?

No, an oxygen tank delivers liquid or gas oxygen while a concentrator pulls in the surrounding air and filters out the nitrogen. An oxygen tank will eventually run out of oxygen and need to be refilled while an oxygen concentrator will deliver oxygen continuously.


Why use an oxygen concentrator and not an oxygen tank?

Oxygen cylinders contain a finite amount of oxygen. They need to be replaced or refilled. This means that you will need to make sure you always have a spare and that your order oxygen timeously to ensure that you don’t run out. An oxygen concentrator delivers oxygen on demand and as it generates its own oxygen from ambient air, it never runs out as long as power is supplied to it.

Oxygen cylinders (tanks) are fairly heavy and not easy to move around. Oxygen concentrators are much easier to work with and can be small and lightweight.


How do I know if I should use an oxygen concentrator?

Those people who suffer from oxygen saturation levels between 90% and 94% can use an oxygen concentrator. When the levels drop further than this, people need to be admitted to hospital.





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