Oxygen Cylinders and Concentrators: A Dire Necessity in the Era of a Pandemic
Oxygen cylinders and concentrators are essential for the healthcare industry as they have ensured assistance to patients by supplementing their oxygen levels. This ensures better health while also speeding up the patients process of recovery.
The air around us primarily contains two gases, oxygen and nitrogen that are found in proportions of 21% and 79% respectively. Compressed oxygen has a higher concentration of pure oxygen molecules in it of over 99.5%. Not every variant of oxygen such as liquid oxygen can be used for healthcare purposes. Medical oxygen is a purified version of atmospheric oxygen as it doesn’t contain traces of any other gas, and it is required to be protected from any type of contamination. Any contamination of the oxygen could end up causing harm to the human body. Also, individuals require a prescription to be able to acquire medical oxygen for personal use.
Oxygen concentrators on the other hand are devices that absorb the concentrated oxygen from the air and filter out any nitrogen that may be present in it. It then supplies the clean oxygen to the patients.
Basic Functioning Methodology of Oxygen Cylinders
The making of oxygen cylinders requires absorption and extraction of oxygen from the atmosphere and then gradually filling it up into cylinders. Most companies compress the gas molecules while filling up the tanks at a pressure of over 2,200 pounds per square inch (PSI). When a patient uses the oxygen cylinder, they turn a valve to release the gas outwards which then travels through a medium such as an oxygen mask or a nasal cannula. The oxygen supplied is usually 90-95% pure and the concentrator also plates an important role in making sure that the quantity of oxygen supply is maintained between 1-10 litres every minute.
The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that most of the concentrators are used to sustain long durations of operation and can supply oxygen for upto five years and even more. To ensure the proper functioning of the cylinders and concentrators, the patients also need to make sure that they have all the necessary additional equipment. This includes a water container, an oxygen mask or a cannula. The mask is an extremely crucial part of the cylinder and it is fitted on the face such that it covers the nose and the mouth. Off late, nasal oxygen cannulas are also used by patients as they’re easier to use – one only needs to insert the cannula like clip into both the nostrils. This ensures a steady supply of oxygen to the patients without any major discomfort.
Differences Between the Oxygen Supply Devices
Though the air has a substantial quantity of oxygen for a normal person to be able to breathe, a person with respiratory issues requires external support to do the same. The oxygen cylinder and oxygen concentrator both work for the same purpose but are different in the way they function. Usually, oxygen cylinders can be refilled multiple times; on the other hand, concentrators do not require refilling as they produce oxygen by absorbing it from the air. This oxygen is then supplied to the patients using nasal cannulas. Oxygen cylinders are also made using different materials depending on the purpose of their use as well as the capacity required. The two main materials used to make oxygen cylinders are steel and aluminium among which the aluminium ones are lighter. Most of the oxygen cylinders have a capacity of upto 10 litres and are more portable which is why they are prominently used in hospital, emergency units,and at home.
Various Uses of Oxygen Cylinders and Prominence Amidst the Pandemic
The oxygen cylinders are mostly used in hospitals to support the patients suffering from respiratory illnesses and also as a source of emergency resuscitation. Sometimes patients require higher levels oxygen while they are asleep as they may experience a sudden drop in their oxygen levels or while they’re working out as it can help improve their breathing capacity. Oxygen should only be administered as per a medical professional’s advice or recommendation. Oxygen therapy is mostly administered to patients who are diagnosed with the following conditions –
- Congestive Heart Failure
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Lung Cancer
- Pulmonary Fibrosis
- Chronic Bronchitis
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Sleep Apnea
The coronavirus was detected in China in early 2020, which then spread rapidly all over the world. Being a fast-spreading disease, it required the shutting down of several operations in various countries to control the rate of infection among people. The virus is known to particularly target the respiratory system and leaves it weak over time. People who were diagnosed with COVID-19, who suffered the adverse effects of the virus, experienced restricted breathing and drops in oxygen levels which is why they needed external support. Multiple hospitals and clinics initially experienced a shortage of oxygen cylinders and concentrators. Families of patients were in a lot of cases asked by doctors to procure cylinders for their homes. This caused a drastic rise in demand for oxygen cylinders. Research Dive recently published a report which stated that the global cylinder and concentrator market is set to witness a significant rise in revenue from $4,313.3 million in 2020 to over $6,706.7 million by 2028 at a steady CAGR of 5.1% from 2021-2028.
Safety Measures to Follow While Using Medical Oxygen Devices
Every gas found in the world has safety levels in terms of its toxicity to humans and points where it could be harmful to the user. Oxygen is one of the safest ones around, but it is necessary to exercise caution while using the cylinders especially at home.
- It is important to keep the cylinders atleast 5 feet away from any heat sources such as heaters, candles, and fireplaces.
- A fire extinguisher needs to be an essential in every household as it can be used in case of any emergency. It is also important to let the local fire department know if one has an oxygen cylinder at home.
- While using the oxygen cylinder, it’s necessary to keep the body free from any creams of ointments especially near the chest or face.
Oxygen cylinders and concentrators are great supplements that can help support an individual’s breathing ability and can also ensure that the necessary emergency care is available during crucial times.
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