Should you get an oxygen concentrator for your home?
Anyone with elderly parents or asthmatic children has probably dealt with an oxygen concentrator before, either at home or in the hospital. They're a great device to have around, because they can serve you really well if you either can't afford to go to the hospital, or if the hospital is overrun with other patients.
However, they're not cheap -- averaging between $300 and $1,000 for an at home oxygen concentrator unit.
What's an oxygen concentrator at home for?
An oxygen concentrator is use to provide home oxygen therapy to anyone suffering from breathing difficulties. There are other recreational uses as well, but the focus here is medical.
Anyone who suffers from low oxygen levels can benefit from home oxygen therapy if they're either not able to get to the hospital, or if the condition is chronic -- that is, if they need oxygen therapy on a daily basis.
Breathing excess oxygen increases, unsurprisingly, the amount of oxygen in your blood, which makes it easier to carry out activities that might otherwise be difficult, or it can reduce the severity of a respiratory illness.
It can also help prevent brain and heart damage caused by reduced levels of oxygen to the blood.
Who might need an oxygen concentrator
There are a variety of health conditions that require oxygen therapy, including severe cases of coronavirus / COVID-19.
If you're concerned about the availability of or access to hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic, you may want to consider buying a home oxygen concentrator. It's a primary treatment mechanism for COVID-19 and can be used to treat the symptoms of a variety of other conditions:
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- pulmonary fibrosis
- heart failure
- obesity-related hypoventilation
- severe long-term asthma
- pulmonary hypertension
- conditions affecting the nerves and muscles or ribcage
- cystic fibrosis
How does an oxygen concentrator work?
Any oxygen concentrator takes air in, purifies it, reduces the amount of nitrogen, then distributes the air as 90% oxygen. The nitrogen is discarded as waste:
1. Takes air from the room.
2. Compresses the oxygen.
3. Takes out nitrogen from the air.
4. Adjusts the way the air is delivered.
5. Delivers the purified air.
Importantly, you don't need any oxygen bottles or other similar accessories. The device gets everything it needs from the ambient atmosphere.
If you're using one, it's important to have a pulse oximeter to hand as well, so you can measure the oxygen levels in your blood.
How much does an oxygen concentrator cost?
Oxygen concentrator machines for your home aren't cheap, unfortunately.
The least expensive model you'll find is around $300, and they go up to perhaps $1,000 for a standard home unit. Compared to a hospital visit, though, perhaps that's relatively inexpensive for most people.
There are renting options as well, and those are typically around $20 to $30 per week.
Do you need an oxygen concentrator?
Whether or not you need an oxygen concentrator machine really depends on any underlying health conditions your family has, and your tolerance for risk.
At the time of writing, 16 March 2020, hospital beds and ventilators are widely available in the US, whereas medical units are completely overwhelmed in other countries like Italy.
If your family is at high risk for coronavirus, or if your family members have any of the underlying conditions above, it may well be worth considering if you have the budget to afford one. We've included links to a number of options below, and they all have generous returns policies if the item remains unused and in the box.
What are the best options for oxygen concentrators?
If you can afford the best
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