Last week my COVID-19 infected uncle’s blood oxygen level (SpO2) dropped down to 84%. We could not find a hospital bed and were advised to arrange for oxygen at home. However, that was no easy task either. We sent out messages and SOS requests to arrange for cylinders but to no avail. That is when a friend suggested that I look for oxygen concentrators instead of cylinders. And guess what? It worked!
Now, here comes the main question: what is the major difference between an oxygen cylinder and a concentrator? Which one of the two should we look for when someone at home needs oxygen? To answer these questions, we recently reached out to Dr. Sanjiv Dang, Senior ENT Surgeon, Apollo Spectra Delhi, Karol Bagh. He helped us understand which one of the two is safer to use. Read on
Currently, many COVID-19 patients have been struggling with low blood oxygen levels. Sadly, the dearth of beds is making it impossible to avail any oxygen support in hospitals right now. However, you can still arrange for oxygen support provided that a medical expert suggests the same. As Dr. Dang explains, “The air around us has approximately 78% of nitrogen, 21% of oxygen, and 1 % of other gases.” On the other hand, the oxygen that is administered to COVID-19 patients is in pure, compressed form. Now, to ascertain which one among a cylinder and a concentrator would serve a better purpose, it is important that we learn the difference between the two. To help you with the task, here is a quick comparison.
An oxygen cylinder can be described as a metal tank containing pressurised oxygen. “In the device, there is a tube that is connected to the oxygen tank at one end and there is a nasal cannula or oxygen mask at the other end. This allows the oxygen in the tank to be delivered directly into your nose. This is how an oxygen cylinder can be used,” explains Dr. Dang.
Cylinders have a limited amount of oxygen which runs out over time.
Pricing: The normal cost of an oxygen cylinder is somewhere between Rs 8,000- 20,000.
Pros: Relatively low initial cost and no noise
Cons: Limited supply, prove to be costly in case refilling is required, heavy to lift
Think of a concentrator as an air purifier that can take oxygen from the atmosphere, compress it, and provide you with pure oxygen. “Oxygen concentrator will be useful in concentrating oxygen from the ambient air by removing nitrogen. Thus, the patient will be able to get pure oxygen. An oxygen concentrator is a device that allows separating oxygen from room air. You will be able to get pure oxygen only when you use the concentrator that has a tube, cannula, or mask attached to deliver oxygen,” adds Dr. Dang. According to him, an oxygen concentrator is safer in comparison to the cylinder and easier to use as well.
Pricing: The price of an oxygen concentrator is around Rs 40,000- 90,000
Pros: Portable, unlimited supply, one-time cost, easier to use, safer
Cons: Noisy, require batteries, expensive
Here’s hoping that this comparison helps you make an informed decision. Also, remember that an oxygen concentrator or cylinder should be used only after a healthcare expert’s recommendation.
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