As the demand for medical oxygen continues unabated and several states struggle to keep pace with demand, the oxygen concentrator has become a sought-after device. Unlike medical oxygen from industrial units, which is supplied via cylinders, concentrators are devices that can be used in the home.

When is an oxygen concentrator needed?

When blood saturation levels drop below 94%, it could be a sign of respiratory distress. Usually this warrants hospitalization, but due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases and the shortage of oxygen beds, the device could help those with saturation levels ranging between 88 and 92 s. they cannot access hospital services. Any lower level would require more intensive oxygenation and any higher level would mean that improved lung function can avoid the need for such a device.

What does a concentrator do?

An oxygen concentrator sucks in air, separates the oxygen, and delivers it to a person through a nasal cannula. Air is 79% nitrogen and 21% oxygen, and a concentrator that works by plugging into a source of electricity provides air with up to 95% oxygen. In respiratory infections that cause oxygen saturation levels to drop below 90%, having an external device providing pure oxygen lightens the burden on the lungs. However, in severe respiratory distress it may be necessary to provide nearly 99% pure oxygen and an oxygen concentrator is not up to the task,

How it works?

A concentrator consists of a compressor and a screen filter. The first squeezes the atmospheric air and also adjusts the pressure at which is delivered. The sieve bed is made of a material called a zeolite which separates nitrogen. There are two sieve beds that work both to release oxygen into a reservoir connected to the cannula, as well as to release the separated nitrogen and form a continuous loop that continues to produce fresh oxygen.

Are all hubs the same?

These products come with a variety of specifications. There are those with variable oxygen outputs. For COVID-19 patients, a device with a flow rate of 5L-10 L. is recommended. What is important is that it provides air containing at least 90% pure oxygen. The cost of these devices can range from ₹ 40,000 to ₹ 90,000. There are also pulse and continuous flow concentrators where one delivers oxygen at a constant rate and the other uses a sensor to deliver a puff of oxygen when a user is about to inhale.

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