Oxygen concentrators have been in use for the past few decades in home health care; these devices are safe, convenient, and cost-effective for individuals who need oxygen supplementation. Some users of oxygen concentrators find the flow of oxygen to be irritating to their nasal passages, but the use of a humidifier unit in the concentrator may reduce the amount of dryness experienced. However, it is important to regularly maintain humidifiers to prevent the possibility of disease-causing microbes from developing inside the moist environment. Below is more information on maintaining your humidifier:
- Food-grade white vinegar in 3% concentration
- Distilled water
- Bottle brush with a 1/2-inch diameter head
- Liquid dish washing soap
Step-by- step procedure
1. Disconnect the humidifier tube adapter from the oxygen concentrator. Pull the humidifier tube adapter from the unit and disconnect the oxygen tube and nasal cannula from the water bottle.
2. Remove the humidifier tube adapter from the bottle lid. Most humidifier tubes are attached to the water bottle using a threaded connection, so to remove this connection, carefully unscrew the adapter from the bottle lid by turning it counterclockwise. Next, carefully lift the water bottle out of the oxygen concentrator.
3. Reconnect the oxygen tubing and nasal cannula to the oxygen concentrator. If you aren't able to go without oxygen for more than half an hour, directly attach the oxygen tubing and nasal cannula to the oxygen concentrator outlet that is normally connected to the humidifier. You may need to use an adapter to make this connection, so check with your medical equipment supplier if you do not have this part available.
4. Empty the water bottle to remove any remaining liquid. The lid to the humidifier water bottle will also be attached using a threaded connection, so unscrew the lid by turning it in a counterclockwise direction. Pour out any old water in the bottle.
5. Wash the water bottle in hot, soapy water. After you have emptied the water bottle, place the lid and bottle in a sink basin filled with hot water; add a generous squirt of dish soap to make the water sudsy. You may use any commonly available liquid dish washing detergent, but avoid any soaps to which you may be allergic or sensitive. Allow the bottle and lid to soak in the soapy water for a few minutes, then use a small bottle brush to clean out the openings in the lid. Rinse the bottle and lid in warm water and thoroughly shake out any remaining water.
6. Disinfect the water bottle and lid. Once you have cleaned and rinsed out out the water bottle and lid, you will need to disinfect these items to kill any potentially remaining bacteria. Fill the bottle one-fourth of the way full with white vinegar, then fill the remainder of the bottle with distilled water. Next, carefully screw the lid back on the bottle in a clockwise motion, being careful not to cross thread the lid, and shake the bottle vigorously for approximately 15 seconds. Set the bottle aside and allow the vinegar-and-water solution to soak for half an hour.
7. Rinse out the bottle and lid. After soaking the bottle with vinegar and water, remove the lid and pour out the vinegar and water solution. Rinse the bottle and lid completely using warm tap water and shake out as much water as possible.
8. Fill the bottle with clean distilled water and replace the lid. Look on the side of the bottle for lines indicating how much water should be added to the bottle and pour in an amount of distilled water that is between the lines; do not underfill or overfill the bottle. Next, carefully screw the lid back on the bottle until it is hand-tight. Check the lid and bottle to make sure the connection between the two is not cross-threaded; if you have difficulty getting the lid back on the bottle properly, try gripping the bottle less firmly to prevent misshaping the bottle. You may also want to place the bottle at eye level so you can watch yourself screw on the lid.
9. Replace the bottle in the oxygen concentrator. If you connected the oxygen tubing and cannula directly to the concentrator, then remove them at this time. Next, place the bottle back in its location on the concentrator and also screw the adapter tube back onto the bottle. Push the adapter tube back onto the concentrator outlet and reattach the oxygen tubing to the bottle. Observe the bottle to make sure it is bubbling and check for oxygen flow from the cannula to ensure it is working correctly. If you don't have any flow from the cannula, then check your connections for leaks.
If you have further questions about how to handle an oxygen concentrator and its humidifier unit, speak with an at-home healthcare representative from a company like Always Dependable.