What to Know About At-Home Oxygen Therapy
FDA：Giving yourself too much or too little oxygen can be dangerous. Talk with your doctor about safely using pulse oximeters and oxygen concentrators at home.
You may have seen oxygen concentrators for sale online without a prescription. At this time, the FDA has not approved or cleared any oxygen concentrators to be sold or used without a prescription.
When using an oxygen concentrator:
- Do not use the concentrator, or any oxygen product, near an open flame or while smoking.
- Place the concentrator in an open space to reduce chances of device failure from overheating.
- Do not block any vents on the concentrator since it may impact device performance.
- Periodically check your device for any alarms to make sure you are getting enough oxygen.
If you are prescribed an oxygen concentrator for chronic health problems and have changes in your breathing or oxygen levels, or have symptoms of COVID-19, call your health care provider. Do not make changes to the oxygen levels on your own.
How are my oxygen levels monitored at home?
Oxygen levels are monitored with a small device called a pulse oximeter, or pulse ox.
Pulse oximeters are usually placed on a fingertip. The devices use beams of light to indirectly measure the level of oxygen in the blood without having to draw a blood sample.
Acute Conditions Requiring an Oxygen Concentrator
A few examples of acute conditions where you would need the use of an oxygen concentrator for short-term oxygen therapy are:
Asthma: This condition is where your airways become inflamed and begin producing a lot of mucus, which makes it harder to breathe. While there are a number of pharmaceuticals that can treat and control asthma, an oxygen concentrator can pump high levels of oxygen into the bloodstream of the patient while they’re having or have already had an asthma attack.
Pneumonia: Pneumonia is an infection where you develop inflammation in either one or both of your lungs’ air sacs and in many cases, fill them up with fluid. Many pneumonia patients have been prescribed oxygen therapy and have seen good clinical outcomes.
Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS): RDS is a breathing disorder mostly affecting newborns, particularly those who are born six or more weeks before their delivery date. Newborns suffering from RDS don’t create enough surfactant (a lung coating liquid), causing their lungs to collapse and making them work harder to breathe. Oxygen therapy using oxygen concentrators help pump oxygen into the babies’ bloodstream and lungs to reduce further complications.
Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD): Newborns suffering from RDS also have a higher risk of developing BPD. This is a severe lung condition requiring long-term breathing support.
In some cases, after surgery, you may need oxygen for a short period of time.
Chronic Diseases that Require Oxygen Therapy
Some chronic conditions requiring long-term oxygen concentrator uses are:
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): COPD affects around 16 million people, but an oxygen concentrator can be an effective treatment. When you have COPD, you have chronic lung damage which makes it difficult for your lungs to absorb enough oxygen. As a result, you can have difficulty breathing, and oxygen therapy through a concentrator can help.
Cystic fibrosis: You inherit this life-threatening condition. It causes digestive system and lung damage. It’s a rare condition that affects the body’s cells responsible for producing mucus, sweat, and digestive juices. The fluids are changed which results in a stickier, thicker solution that plugs the ducts, tubes, and passageways of the individual infected.
Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that can be serious and cause the individual’s breathing to sporadically stop and start during their sleep. Usually, treatment for this condition is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), weight loss, and physical exercise, though some people with sleep apnea may require oxygen therapy.
How Does an Oxygen Concentrator Work?
Think of an oxygen concentrator as a window air conditioner — it takes air in, changes it, and delivers it in a different form. The oxygen concentrator takes air in and purifies it for use by individuals who require medical oxygen because of low levels of oxygen in their blood.
It works by:Compressing air as the cooling mechanism keeps the concentrator from becoming overheated
1.Taking air in from its surroundings
2.Using an electronic interface to adjust delivery settings
3.Removing nitrogen from the air through sieve beds and a filter
4.Delivering purified oxygen through a mask or nasal cannula
Patients who required oxygen therapy in the past mainly relied on pressurized oxygen tanks. Even though these tanks are extremely effective, they’re also fairly inefficient with the suppliers having to visit the patients regularly to replenish their oxygen supply in their tank.
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