Oxygen concentrators are a little bigger than a computer monitor, yet are useful. As Covid cases are going up and oxygen cylinders are in short supply across several states, the concentrator is among the most sought after devices for oxygen therapy, especially among patients in home isolation and for hospitals running out of oxygen.
Here’s how it works…
It is a medical device that helps in concentrating oxygen from ambient air. Atmospheric air has about 78 per cent nitrogen and 21 per cent oxygen, with other gases making up the remaining 1 per cent.
The oxygen concentrator takes in this air, filters it through a sieve, releases the nitrogen back into the air, and works on the remaining oxygen.
As per studies, this oxygen is 90-95 per cent pure.
According to a 2015 report by the WHO, concentrators are designed for continuous operation and can produce oxygen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for up to 5 years or more.
Is the oxygen from concentrators pure enough?
According to experts, it is not as pure as LMO (99%), but it is good enough for mild and moderate Covid patients with oxygen saturation levels of 85 per cent or above. It is, however, not advisable for ICU patients.
The device can be attached with multiple tubes to serve two patients at the same time, however it carries risk of cross-infection.
How are concentrators different from oxygen cylinders and LMO?
Oxygen concentrators are the easiest alternatives to cylinders but can only supply 5-10 litres of oxygen per minute. Patients who are critical require 40-50 litres per minute. These are portable and unlike LMO that needs to be stored and transported in cryogenic tankers. Cylinders require refilling, however, concentrators only need a power source to draw in ambient air.
What is the cost?
Concentrators are more expensive than cylinders and may cost Rs 40,000-90,000. Cylinders cost somewhere around Rs 8,000-20,000.
Industry experts say the demand for oxygen concentrators has gone up from 40,000 annually to 30,000-40,000 a month.