Oxygen units can be used by people with chronic bronchitis, emphysema, sleep apnoea and other restrictive lung diseases.
It is essential that you get proper explanations and demonstrations on how this equipment works from both your doctor and your supplier. Some patients require a constant supply of oxygen, while others only need it every now and then.
Ask your doctor about the various systems that are available. The following oxygen systems are available from Afrox in South Africa:
Portable Oxymiser System. Permits valuable freedom of movement, enabling patients to be away from their home oxygen source for reasonably long periods of time. The Oxymatic Oxygen Conserver extends the life of the oxygen cylinder by as much as seven times, which, in turn, ensures that the equipment is light and compact.
Oxygen Concentrators. An electrically operated device that concentrates the oxygen content of normal room air to approximately 95% at flowrates up to 5l/min. Concentrators are convenient, cost-effective, do not require refills and are aesthetically attractive.
Oxygen Cylinders. Cylinders are widely available, flexible in their use, provide high purity oxygen of 99,5% and deliver flow rates in excess of 5l/min which make them suitable for nebulisation. Oxygen cylinders, used in combination with the Oxymatic unit, provide a cost-effective solution to the patient.
CPAP (Constant positive airway pressure). Patients with sleep apnoea due to collapse or narrowing of the airways when they go to sleep can use the Medispeed CPAP machine.
Support services. User convenience and 24-hour availability Medispeed's service has an educational dimension based on a commitment to ensuring that the patient and the caregivers understand exactly how the equipment works and how the therapy regimen can be managed for optimum results. Medispeed also provides a 24-hour emergency service to allow the patient and caregivers to obtain helpful advice or emergency supplies of oxygen. (Information source - Afrox.com)
Further tips for oxygen unit use
While choosing the right equipment is of paramount importance, there are also other general tips for those who have to use oxygen regularly.
A nose job. Inhale through your nose when using oxygen, as breathing through the mouth can leave your mouth very dry.
Don't run out. Make sure you know how long each unit will last you, so that you do not get caught unawares while on an outing.
Change cannulas often. Change the nasal cannulas often if the prongs become soiled. Sometimes these are provided free from your suppliers.
Get used to attention. The tubing and oxygen unit may attract attention when you go out. Most people know what they are and won't give it a second thought. Answer questions if people have any.
(Information from Afrox)
(Compiled by Susan Erasmus, updated February 2009)
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Visit the SA Thoracic Society for more information