As India is battling the massive spike in Coronavirus cases during the second wave and there is an increased demand for oxygen with hospitals struggling to meet the demand for oxygen leading to the death of patients in several cases, the demand for oxygen concentrators is also witnessing a rise.
What is an oxygen concentrator?
Oxygen concentrators dispense oxygen in almost exactly the same way that oxygen tanks do, delivering oxygen directly to the patient via the same nasal cannula or oxygen masks. However, where oxygen tanks contain a fixed amount of pressurized oxygen, concentrators collect oxygen from the surrounding air, concentrate it, and then deliver it to the patient, removing the need for replacement or refilling.
“They work on the principle of ‘rapid pressure swing absorption’ which is where the nitrogen is removed from the air using zeolite minerals which absorb the nitrogen, leaving the other gases to pass through and leaving oxygen as the primary gas. Once the oxygen is collected, the pressure then drops which allows nitrogen to desorb and be expelled back into the air through silencers,” Sunil Khurana, MD and CEO at BPL Medical Technologies in New Delhi, told IANS.
“Oxygen concentrators do not have limitations of refilling. It takes oxygen from the air itself, which enables unlimited supply of oxygen till electricity is available. Oxygen concentrator is a more safe option compared to the Oxygen cylinders, because cylinders can sometimes leak and oxygen saturation increases the risk of fire,” Dr Ravi Shekhar Jha, HOD and Senior Consultant Pulmonology, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad told IANS.
Oxygen concentrators produce up to 95 per cent pure oxygen. It also has in-built oxygen sensors which can indicate if purity levels go down, Khuranna said.
When should an oxygen concentrator be used?
“In the case of Covid-19 patients, who feel breathless when their oxygen saturation drops below 94 per cent, then he or she must be put on Oxygen Therapy immediately to avoid damage to other body parts. Oxygen concentrators play an important role as they supply supplemental oxygen to patients via nasal cannula,” Sunil Khurana explained.
Oxygen concentrators are widely used for oxygen provision in healthcare applications, especially where liquid or pressurised oxygen is too dangerous or inconvenient, such as in homes or in portable clinics.
Oxygen concentrators are portable and easy to use and are thus better than oxygen cylinders. Although at Rs 40,000-Rs 90,000, they are more expensive than cylinders (Rs 8,000-20,000), they require very minimal maintenance.
The only maintenance cost is power consumption and the disposable filters and sieve beds that need to be replaced over years of usage, Khurana said.
Precautions to take while using an oxygen concentrator
While oxygen concentrator devices can be used at the convenience of patients under the supervision of doctors or healthcare workers, the stand-alone cylinder needs to be refilled and needs utmost care and monitoring as there are chances of leakage and can cause fire accidents.
Types of oxygen concentrators?
Concentrators are also available in multiple styles, offering larger models for use at home or in the hospital as well as more compact models perfect for traveling and moving out and about and the good part is that you can get oxygen concentrators on Amazon.
There are two types of concentrators available in the market— continuous flow and pulse dose. Continuous flow oxygen provides the same flow of oxygen every minute unless it is turned off irrespective of whether the patient is breathing it in or not, while pulse dose oxygen concentrator detects breathing pattern and dispenses oxygen when it detects inhalation, according to Indian Express report.
Importers and Manufacturers in India
Common importers and manufacturers in India are Phillips, BPL Medical Technologies Ltd, Invacare, AirSep corporation, SS Technologies, Oshocorp Global Pvt Ltd, Medtronic, Inogen, Nidek Medical, Chart Industries.
Things to keep in mind before buying an oxygen concentrator
Normal air will have 21 per cent oxygen. Concentrator sucks atmospheric air, filter nitrogen and other gases and compresses remaining oxygen dispense it through the cannula. Indian Express report says that “If f 1 litre oxygen is provided to the patient through the concentrator, the oxygen percentage (or fraction of inspired air) in lungs rises to 24 per cent, with 2 litres it rises to 28 per cent and with 10 litres it rises to 60 per cent. Depending on need, the litres of oxygen per minute have to be regulated.”
You should take a physician’s advice before giving oxygen to a patience. You should always keep a pulse oximeter with you. ‘Oxygen concentrators can supply between 0.1 litres per minute (LPM) to 5 to 10 LPM. A concentrator has 92-95 per cent pure oxygen,’ read the report.
Recently, the government permitted the import of oxygen concentrators for personal use, through post, courier or e-commerce portals under the gift category. However, this exemption for personal use is only allowed for a period till July 31, 2021, according to a notification of the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).
“Import of goods, including those purchased from e-commerce portals, through post or courier, where customs clearance is sought as gifts, is prohibited except for life saving drugs/ medicines/ oxygen concentrators and rakhi (but not gifts related to rakhi),” the notification said.