Using oxygen concentrator without medical guidance can be harmful: Experts


Experts have recently warned that using oxygen concentrators without medical guidance can be very harmful.

Speaking at a webinar organised by PIB, Covid Co-ordinator, St. John’s Medical College Hospital in Bengaluru, Chaitanya H. Balakrishnan said, “Patients with moderate pneumonia induced by Covid-19 — with oxygen saturation less than 94 — can benefit from supplemental oxygen given through oxygen concentrator, but only till they get hospital admission. However, patients using it themselves without suitable medical advice can be harmful.”

Oxygen concentrators are simple devices which do precisely what its name promises – they take in ambient air and increase the oxygen concentration, by filtering out and throwing away nitrogen.

These oxygen concentrators work the same way in supplying oxygen needed by the body such as oxygen tanks or cylinders, with the use of a cannula, oxygen masks or nasal tubes. The difference is that, while the cylinders need to be refilled, the Oxygen Concentrators can work 24 x 7.

According to a WHO training manual on pulse oximetry, if the oxygen saturation is 94 per cent or lower, the patient needs to be treated quickly.

A saturation of less than 90 per cent is a clinical emergency.

Now, according to the latest clinical guidance for management of adult Covid-19 patients, issued by the Union Health Ministry, an oxygen concentration less than or equal to 93 per cent on room air requires hospital admission, while that below 90 per cent is classified as a severe disease, requiring admission in ICU.

The government advises that given the prevalent situation in the wake of the second wave, one must do whatever he or she best can, in order to try and replenish oxygen levels, in the event of delay or inability in getting hospital admission as per the clinical management protocol.

Speaking on the appropriate usage of concentrators, Professor and Head of Department Anaesthesia, B. J. Medical College, Pune, Sanyogita Naik said, “Oxygen concentrators can be used only in moderate cases of Covid-19, when the patient experiences drop in oxygen levels, where the oxygen requirement is a maximum of 5 litres per minute.”

Naik further stated that oxygen concentrators are also very useful for patients experiencing post-Covid complications which necessitate oxygen therapy.