Oxygen Therapy: Getting Started with a Home Oxygen Concentrator

A home oxygen concentrator is prescribed for patients who need constant oxygen while they are at home and/or asleep. In this video, we will explain the parts of home concentrators, how they work and how to take care of them. Always consult your doctor if you have questions about your oxygen therapy prescription and using your oxygen device.

Produced with support from Three Lakes Partners.

Patients who need constant oxygen at home or while they sleep are often prescribed home oxygen concentrators. Oxygen concentrators take air from your surroundings, extract oxygen and filter it into purified oxygen for you to breathe.

Oxygen can be drying to your nose so some patients use a humidifier bottle that can be attached to your home unit to help moisten the oxygen you inhale.

If you use a humidifier bottle, start by filling it with distilled water and attach it to the oxygen outlet. Then, plug your home oxygen concentrator into an electrical source. It needs to stay plugged in at all times to work properly. An alarm will sound if it is not plugged in or if there is an abrupt power failure.

Next, attach your nasal cannula or facemask and set the rate, which is prescribed to you by your doctor.

You will notice the oxygen is prescribed in number of liters per minute. The flow rate, or number of liters per minute, is your prescription. Do not self-adjust your oxygen flow rate without consulting your doctor. You can use a nasal cannula connected with a hose of up to 50 feet around your home. Be careful when you are walking so you do not trip on it.

Care for your system by washing your nasal cannula or face mask weekly with mild dish soap and warm water. Clean them more frequently if you are sick, and let air dry. Be sure not to get water in the tubing and replace it if it is damaged. You can get replacement tubing from your oxygen supplier.

Clean your humidifier bottle every three days with warm water and mild dish soap. Make sure you rinse out all of the soap with hot water. Then soak it in a vinegar and water solution for a few minutes to help get rid of any extra bacteria. Dry the bottle with a paper towel, and then let it air dry.

Clean the machine's filter once a month by removing the filter and dipping into a clean container filled with water and mild dish soap. Scrub the filter with a washcloth to remove any small pieces of dirt or dust and rinse it under water to remove all soap residues. Then set the filter on a clean, dry towel and let it air dry completely before putting it back in the machine.

A home oxygen concentrator can help you stay healthier and more active in your home.

Your doctor might also prescribe a portable oxygen concentrator or oxygen in a metal tank for use outside the home.

It might be daunting at first to get started with a new oxygen device, but with practice, you will gain confidence and adjust to life with oxygen therapy.

For more information, visit Lung.org/oxygen.

Page last updated: June 7, 2024

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