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Coronavirus Explainers

COVID-19 Explainer: All You Need To Know About Oxygen Concentrators

Here’s all you need to know about oxygen concentrators, being used for COVID patients who don’t have critically low saturation levels. Experts explain some key points – how does it help, who needs it, when do you need it, which one should you buy

COVID-19 Explainer: All You Need To Know About Oxygen Concentrators

New Delhi: Oxygen concentrators – something which is on everybody’s mind right now as India gasp for the basic necessity in this deadly second wave of coronavirus. At a time like this, when India fresh COVID-19 cases is increasing on a daily basis and as more and more patients continue to lose their precious lives amid shortage of oxygen, NDTV speaks with experts to explain everything you need to know about oxygen concentrators. How does oxygen concentrators really help, who needs it, when do you need it and which one should you buy, here’s a quick explainer:

What Is An Oxygen Concentrator?

In layman terms, an oxygen concentrator is something which basically makes oxygen on its own, unlike the medically sourced oxygen in hospitals via industrial units in the form of cylinders. So, no refilling is required and it can also be moveD around easily. An oxygen concentrator takes the oxygen from the room or nearby surroundings, purifies it and produces the oxygen for the patient or person in need.

What Are The Things To Keep In Mind

According to experts and doctors, there are certain things one needS to keep in mind while procuring the oxygen concentrators at home. Experts suggest:

– If one is using the oxygen concentrator for long hours, ensure that the room is well ventilated and there is constant flow of fresh air. Therefore doors and windows need to open every now and then

– If a COVID patient is seeing extreme fluctuations in the oxygen levels on the oximeter and it goes below 94, then a lot of these oxygen concentrators will also not help, one will need to seek immediate medical help followed by hospitalisation

– It is recommend that one can use the oxygen concentrator device at home while waitING to arrange the bed at hospitals or oxygen cylinders along with proning. Proning is a medically accepted position to improve breathing comfort and oxygenation. A detailed guidelines have been released by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Also Read: As COVID Cases In India Sets World Record, Centre Recommends “Proning”. Here’s All You Need To Know

– Experts also recommend that if the patient do side-ways of proning, with an oxygen concentrator connected, is when one get maximum output at the crucial hour from a machine like oxygen concentrators

Also Read: Proning Do’s And Don’ts, What Experts Have To Say

– Oxygen concentrators can only aid a moderate COVID patient, whose oxygen concentration levels falls between 90 to 94. Below 90, one definitely needs hospital care

– It can be used for severe patients as well but only to bridge the time before one actually reaches hospital from home

Also Read: Coronavirus Explained: How COVID-19 Is Affecting Heart Even After The Recovery

Explaining some of crucial things that one should know, Dr Boronali Dutta, Director Medanta – The Medicity said,

We have been using oxygen concentrators from really long time for treating our patients, however this is the first time, when everybody is needing this as everyone is susceptible to COVID19 disease. It is important to point out that oxygen concentrators has its limited role in home settings and one should not forget that. One should be really particular of seeking hospitalisation when it is really needed and not rely on these devices at home. Along with that, the signs are also very important – 90 per cent or above oxygen is good for the patients, but if it falls below 90 per cent then hospitalisation is important. Because of the dire situation of hospital beds, oxygen concentrators are being used by everyone but it is equally important for the patient to be in touch with medical teams for his/her overall treatment so that they can guide them ahead.

Talking about if there are any side-effects of using oxygen concentration and other recommendations, Dr Dutta added,

Hydration is very important, make sure the patient who is using the machine is well hydrated. Secondly, ventilation is another important key.

Also Read: Coronavirus Outbreak Explained: Do All COVID-19 Patients Need CT Scans?

What Are Two Kinds Of Oxygen Concentrators

There are two kinds of oxygen concentrators available in market, one is Portable Unit and second one is Home Unit.

Portable Units, as the name suggest does not need any electricity source and can be carried around. It gives pulse flow of oxygen, which is mostly used for chronic but stable lung diseases, meaning it has a very limited role to play when it comes to treating COVID patients.

Whereas, Home Units are the device that needs a plug point. It gives continuous oxygen flow, which is absolutely essential for COVID cases.

According to experts, home units is usually a preferred choice when dealing with COVID19.

Things To Keep In Mind While Buying An Oxygen Concentrators

Check OPI (oxygen purity indicator): While buying an oxygen concentrator, it is important to check its OPI, meaning the oxygen purity indicator, it SHOWS the purity of the oxygen that the concentrator is letting out. Experts say it should not be below 87 per cent.

– Check capacity of oxygen concentrator: There are options available from 1 LPM to 10 LPM (Litres per minute), which one should you buy should be strictly on the advice of your doctor. Generally the advise experts give is that for a small family with no senior citizens, 5L at 90 per cent oxygen concentration is a good choice. But if you have two or more senior citizens in the family, it is advised to go for 10L one with 90 per cent oxygen concentration as it can support two patients when the need arises.

Explaining how can one make sure that the right oxygen concentrator and stay away from the fake ones, Sunil Khurana, CEO, BPL Medical and Technologies said,

Difficult to say which one is fake or which one is not at this juncture. But there are few things one can do – first, buy from popular brands and known brands. Secondly, buy it from the actual sites of those brand – that’s the most ideal way in the given scenarios.

Prashant Sharma, Acer Biomedical added,

One should watch out of OPI. Make sure with higher flow the purity of oxygen is not coming down. The basic math is if you are buying an oxygen concentrator for 5L, it should deliver the oxygen purity of 90 per cent or more than 87 per cent at max.

Mr Sharma also said that for more than 90 to 95 per cent of cases, 5L concentrator is good enough. He added,

However, if we are looking at severe cases of COVID, where we sometimes need 9L or 10L oxygen, in those certain conditions you need to admit the patient to the hospital. Buying a higher litre of oxygen concentrator won’t help.

Also Read: COVID-19 Crisis: ‘Oxygen Langar’ At This Ghaziabad Gurdwara Has Helped Save Lives

When Should You Buy An Oxygen Concentrator?

Dr Dutta says

Ideally in this extraordinary situation everyone should have an oxygen concentrator, there should be no boundaries because the virus is just infecting everyone and anyone, all are alike, whether it is a id ?or an adult. But having said that, we also need to keep in mind we cannot just unnecessarily hoard on things and create a shortage in market since we have limited supply. So, in that case if you are not very susceptible to COVID, if you don’t have elderly people or people with comorbodities at home, it can be avoided. Important thing is to know we cannot and cannot hoard on these things. It is definitely not needed by everyone.

Can Oxygen Concentrators Be Used By All?

Yes, oxygen concentrators can be used by everyone, even children. Dr Dutta said,

Usually, we have seen that COVID impacts children very mildly. So, the oxygen concentrator is not really needed for them. But we need to know that if children develop COVID, we need to hospitalise them, especially in current wave, when it is also seen that it has effect on younger generation as well.

Talking about the maintenance bit, Sunil Khurana added,

We need to change the filter of the machine in two weeks. We can simply put it under fresh water and rinse it. Most important part is that after few months when the purity comes down of your product, we need to get a candle shape thing inserted in the product changed or checked. It is basically a chemical, which is stored in the device that sterilises the filter just like our ROs at home. So, once we see that the purity of oxygen is coming down, it is not that our product is damage, but just one part. We need to change that.

According to the data by Health Ministry, in the last 24 hours, India added 3.43 lakh fresh COVID-19 cases today. The death count has touched 2,62,317 lakh with 4,000 people dying of the infection. India currently has 37.04 lakh active cases and they account for 15.65 per cent of the country’s total infections. Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana cumulatively account for 79.67 per cent of the total active cases.

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

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