Will my oxygen concentrator suffice instead of a ventilator?

Posted by naffie @naffie, Mar 26 11:23pm

Hello,
I am a 73 year old diabetic with lung disease. I have an oxygen concentrator and currently use 1 liter of oxygen as needed. If I should contract the virus will my oxygen concentrator suffice instead of a ventilator?

Thank you for your kind assistance.

@naffie– Welcome to Mayo Connect. This sounds like it would be a major concern and an excellent question. I know nothing about oxygen concentrators or ventilators. I did some research and it looks like the 2 are used for different reasons. According to Wikipedia "An oxygen concentrator is a device that concentrates the oxygen from a gas supply (typically ambient air) by selectively removing nitrogen to supply an oxygen-enriched product gas stream. Two methods in common use are pressure swing adsorption and membrane gas separation." A ventilator is used to breathe for someone, regulating the intake of o2 and removing Co2. A ventilator actually breathes for you. A tube goes into your mouth so I would assume that you would continue to use your ventilator as it is on your nose. @johnbishop do you know anything about these machines?
@naffie– I hope that you are taking every precaution to avoid getting the virus- so this will only be a moot question and not a reality! Be safe.

REPLY

Hello @naffie, I would like to add my welcome to Connect along with @merpreb and others. My brother-in-law has COPD and uses an oxygen concentrator. I'm have no medical background or knowledge but did find this layman's explaination that makes sense. The text is from the link below…

Quote from "What is the difference between a ventilator and an oxygen supply installed to medical patients, in simple language?"
https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-a-ventilator-and-an-oxygen-supply-installed-to-medical-patients-in-simple-language

A “ventilator” (mechanical ventilator) is a machine that takes over the work of breathing for a patient with primary respiratory failure due to lung disease or secondary respiratory failure due to central nervous system disease or anesthesia / drug overdose. Ventilators are connected to the patient via an endotracheal tube (“breathing tube”) that is placed in the patient's trachea (“wind pipe”). Ventilators remove carbon dioxide and deliver oxygen to maintain physiologic homeostasis (normal blood pH).

Oxygen can be provided without endotracheal tube to those with adequate respiratory function (i.e., do not need a ventilator) but do need supplemental oxygen due to, most commonly, chronic lung disease (e.g., bronchitis, emphysema, acute asthma attack, cystic fibrosis, etc). Usual methods for administering oxygen are via nasal cannula or various masks.

REPLY

@naffie Welcome to Mayo Connect. We are a community of people exploring our health issues and helping each other, but most of us are not medical professionals, so we can share our experiences, offer opinions, or point you to specific information, but we don't really give health care advice.
The question about your oxygen concentrator probably should be addressed to your health care provider or the respiratory equipment provider. My sense is that it will help keep you more comfortable if you develop the virus, but if you get severe respiratory symptoms or pneumonia, you will likely need more care. In any case, with your lung disease, any evidence that you have the virus – fever, dry cough (more than your normal cough), additional shortness of breath, pain when breathing… should be reported to your provider immediately for advice.
Your best chance for staying healthy right now is self-quarantine, relentless hand washing, cleaning any and distance from anyone who may have been exposed to the virus.
Are you able to stay safe and have someone bring you what you need?
Sue

REPLY
@merpreb

@naffie– Welcome to Mayo Connect. This sounds like it would be a major concern and an excellent question. I know nothing about oxygen concentrators or ventilators. I did some research and it looks like the 2 are used for different reasons. According to Wikipedia "An oxygen concentrator is a device that concentrates the oxygen from a gas supply (typically ambient air) by selectively removing nitrogen to supply an oxygen-enriched product gas stream. Two methods in common use are pressure swing adsorption and membrane gas separation." A ventilator is used to breathe for someone, regulating the intake of o2 and removing Co2. A ventilator actually breathes for you. A tube goes into your mouth so I would assume that you would continue to use your ventilator as it is on your nose. @johnbishop do you know anything about these machines?
@naffie– I hope that you are taking every precaution to avoid getting the virus- so this will only be a moot question and not a reality! Be safe.

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Hello Merry,
Thank you for your invaluable information. Although I had researched ventilators to some extent, I failed to realize that they actually breath for you. I will certainly expand my research.

REPLY
@sueinmn

@naffie Welcome to Mayo Connect. We are a community of people exploring our health issues and helping each other, but most of us are not medical professionals, so we can share our experiences, offer opinions, or point you to specific information, but we don't really give health care advice.
The question about your oxygen concentrator probably should be addressed to your health care provider or the respiratory equipment provider. My sense is that it will help keep you more comfortable if you develop the virus, but if you get severe respiratory symptoms or pneumonia, you will likely need more care. In any case, with your lung disease, any evidence that you have the virus – fever, dry cough (more than your normal cough), additional shortness of breath, pain when breathing… should be reported to your provider immediately for advice.
Your best chance for staying healthy right now is self-quarantine, relentless hand washing, cleaning any and distance from anyone who may have been exposed to the virus.
Are you able to stay safe and have someone bring you what you need?
Sue

Jump to this post

Hello Sue,
I have received so many invaluable responses and I sincerely thank you for your input. Yes, my eldest daughter who resides with me is my caretaker. My support system also includes my other 2 adult children who live in close proximity.

REPLY
@johnbishop

Hello @naffie, I would like to add my welcome to Connect along with @merpreb and others. My brother-in-law has COPD and uses an oxygen concentrator. I'm have no medical background or knowledge but did find this layman's explaination that makes sense. The text is from the link below…

Quote from "What is the difference between a ventilator and an oxygen supply installed to medical patients, in simple language?"
https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-a-ventilator-and-an-oxygen-supply-installed-to-medical-patients-in-simple-language

A “ventilator” (mechanical ventilator) is a machine that takes over the work of breathing for a patient with primary respiratory failure due to lung disease or secondary respiratory failure due to central nervous system disease or anesthesia / drug overdose. Ventilators are connected to the patient via an endotracheal tube (“breathing tube”) that is placed in the patient's trachea (“wind pipe”). Ventilators remove carbon dioxide and deliver oxygen to maintain physiologic homeostasis (normal blood pH).

Oxygen can be provided without endotracheal tube to those with adequate respiratory function (i.e., do not need a ventilator) but do need supplemental oxygen due to, most commonly, chronic lung disease (e.g., bronchitis, emphysema, acute asthma attack, cystic fibrosis, etc). Usual methods for administering oxygen are via nasal cannula or various masks.

Jump to this post

Hello John,
I opened and read the link which was very helpful.

Thank you for sharing.

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