When Should You Take Oxygen Support At Home? Know Difference Between Oxygen Concentrators And Cylinders

There is a lot of confusion about the uses of oxygen concentrator and oxygen cylinder. Let us explain the differences to you.

Chanchal Sengar
Written by: Chanchal SengarPublished at: May 14, 2021
When Should You Take Oxygen Support At Home? Know Difference Between Oxygen Concentrators And Cylinders

One of the greatest problems that the country is facing lately is the crisis of medical-grade oxygen supply. Coronavirus is rooted so intensely that it has collapsed the healthcare system. A major part of the population is suffering from COVID-19 infection and hundreds of people are dying daily either because of the complications of covid or oxygen deprivation. Those not receiving oxygen on time succumb to this infection which is a scary picture this pandemic has created. However, this crisis leads to awareness regarding oxygen supply and different modes of oxygen support. Oxygen cylinders and oxygen concentrators are the two options but do not take oxygen therapy at home without proper consultation. Know everything related to oxygen support at home in this article.

When one should be provided oxygen support?

One of the biggest questions is that when should one take at-home oxygen support? We know that SpO2 reading is the thing that determines oxygen levels in the body. Ideally, a healthy person has SpO2 reading between 95-100%, if the level decreases below 94%, oxygenation should be preferred. But you don’t need to start oxygen support immediately. Practice prone positioning to improve levels naturally without needing support. If your oxygen level drops down below 90%, consult a doctor to start oxygen support. If a person has COVID, a low oxygen level can be fatal for them. In such cases, attendants or caregivers must try to achieve oxygen saturation of 92% and gradually increase it.

How is an oxygen cylinder different from an oxygen concentrator?

Do you know the difference between oxygen concentrator and cylinder? Before you proceed with oxygen therapy, it is necessary that you take complete knowledge of both before you start running here and there to get one. Let us talk about them one by one.

using oxygen cylinder 

What is an oxygen concentrator?

Oxygen concentrator is an electronic device that extracts oxygen from indoor air and supplies it to the receiver through the nasal cannula. This device works on a special principle named ‘rapid pressure swing absorption’. In this, nitrogen is removed from the air using zeolite mineral filtration. Oxygen is thus filtered and collected in the container. This oxygen is 92-95% pure.

Also Read: What Is Proning and Why Is It Recommended For COVID Patients

What is an Oxygen Cylinder?

Oxygen cylinder has oxygen-filled in the massive metal tank. It gets supplied to the receiver through the nasal cannula. Oxygen supply through the oxygen cylinder gradually decreases as the oxygen is consumed by the patient. Post that, the cylinder needs to be replaced or refilled.

Now you understand the basic difference between a concentrator and cylinder. In an emergency situation, you can use either of these but only after your doctor’s consultation. The doctor can best suggest according to your health condition and oxygen supply need.

How to use an oxygen concentrator?

While using an oxygen cylinder is pretty easy, oxygen concentrator use depends on the air available inside the room. In general, indoor air has 21% of oxygen in it that gradually increases and decreases. You must keep the space ventilated to allow more oxygen to come and supply to the patient. 1 litre of oxygen given to a patient can increase the percentage of oxygen in the air by 24%. as the oxygen supply increases, the percentage also increases. While using a concentrator, someone needs to keep a regular check on the oxygen supply and oxygen saturation in the body. There should be a moderate oxygen supply and the patient should not be given more oxygen than he/she needs. It is best to consult your doctor to know how many litres of oxygen should be given to the patient.

oxygen cylinder different from an oxygen concentrator 

Also Read: Naturally Improve The Oxygen Levels In Your Body With These Simple Hacks

Now, let us tell you who should use a concentrator. Moderately ill COVID patients whose SpO2 level is between 90-94% can be given oxygen concentrator support. If the oxygen level falls below 90%, they should be administered with a cylinder that supplies better oxygen.

(With inputs from Dr Sanjay Shah, Consultant, General Physician, Fortis Hospital Mulund)

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