Saturday, May 1, 2021

What is Oxygen Concentrator, Who can Use It and When?

The demand for oxygen concentrators has increased during the 2nd wave of the COVID-19 pandemic that has resulted in an alarming increase in the number of active cases in India.

So let's know exactly what oxygen concentrators are, how they work, who can use them, and when they are needed? 

Oxygen Concentrator

Explained: All You Need to Know Before Buying Oxygen Concentrators

India is suffering from the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. There is an alarming increase in the number of active cases due to the increase of coronavirus infections.

As a result, Indian public health infrastructure is under stress and the demand for oxygen concentrators has increased. 

So let's know exactly what oxygen concentrators are, how oxygen concentrators work and when they are needed.

To survive we need a constant supply of oxygen, which flows from our lungs to various cells of the body.

Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is a respiratory disease that affects our lungs and can cause oxygen levels in the body to fall to dangerous levels.

In such a situation, in order to increase the oxygen level in the body to a medically acceptable level, we need to give oxygen therapy to the body.

Oxygen levels in the body are measured as 'oxygen saturation' which is abbreviated as 'SaO2'. It is a measure of the amount of hemoglobin that carries oxygen in the blood.

Oxygen saturation in the artery of a healthy person with normal lungs is 95% -100%.

According to the World Health Organization's training manual on pulse oximetry, if the oxygen saturation is 94% or less, the patient needs to be treated quickly. If oxygen saturation falls below 90%, it is considered a medical emergency.


What is an Oxygen Concentrator?

An oxygen concentrator is a medical device that concentrates oxygen from a gas source by filtering only oxygen through the air and selectively removing nitrogen to the outside, to supply an oxygen-rich product gas stream.

There are two types of oxygen concentrator — continuous flow and pulse dose. 

Continuous flow oxygen concentrator:  This provides the same flow of oxygen every minute unless it is turned off, whether the patient is breathing it in or not.

Pulse dose oxygen concentrator: It detects breathing patterns and dispenses oxygen when it detects inhalation. The oxygen released per minute will vary in this case.


How Oxygen Concentrator Works?

We know that atmospheric air contains about 21% oxygen plus 78% nitrogen and 1% other gases. The oxygen concentrator is a simple device that does exactly what its name expresses. 

An Oxygen concentrator works by filtering ambient air. The concentrator filters only oxygen through the air and allows the nitrogen to return to the outside, and increases the oxygen density, providing users with air that is 90-95% oxygen.

Through a cannula, oxygen mask, or nasal tubes, oxygen concentrators supply the oxygen needed for the body in the same way as oxygen tanks or cylinders. The difference is that, while cylinders need to be refilled frequently, oxygen concentrators can work 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


Who can Use an Oxygen Concentrator and When? 

Can anyone who finds their oxygen levels below acceptable levels use an oxygen concentrator and help themselves? The answer is absolutely no. 

Oxygen concentrators are one of the medical devices for which the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) requires a medical prescription and makes the rules about prescription sales.

To purchase oxygen concentrators, you do need a prescription from your doctor, stating your oxygen level. This prescription is the only evidence you have of exactly what those needs are.

“Oxygen concentrator can be used only in limited cases of covid-19 and that too when the patient experiences a drop in oxygen levels and his need to take oxygen from outside is a maximum of 5 liters per minute. Oxygen concentrators are also very useful for patients experiencing post-covid complications that require oxygen therapy. " Said Sanyogita Naik, an associate professor at BJ Medical College Pune, Maharashtra India.

Prof. Sanyogita too says that both the purchase and use of the concentrator should be done on the basis of a medical prescription. 


Speaking at a webinar organized by PIB on 30 April 2021, Dr. Chaitanya H. Balakrishnan, a Covid Coordinator at St John's Medical College Hospital, Bengaluru, Karnataka, made it very clear that using an oxygen concentrator without medical guidance can be extremely harmful.

“Patients with less than 94% oxygen saturation in COVID-19 pneumonia may benefit from oxygen concentrator with supplemental oxygen (oxygen therapy). But only until you get a bed in the hospital. However, doing so, without the appropriate medical guidance from a thoracic surgeon or internal medicine specialist, can be harmful to patients who use it. It also depends on how the patient's lung condition is already, ” explained Dr. Chaitanya.


Oxygen Concentrators Market in India

India has seen a big jump in the manufacture and sale of oxygen concentrators. Apart from multinational brands, several Indian start-ups funded under the 'Centre for Augmenting WAR with COVID-19 Health Crisis (CAWACH)' program, an initiative by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), have also developed efficient and cost-effective oxygen concentrators.

In view of their utility during the 2nd wave of the covid epidemic, one lakh oxygen concentrators are being procured through the PM Cares Fund.

Depending on the capacity, the oxygen concentrator costs upwards of Rs 30,000.

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