New Delhi: India is currently battling the second wave of Coronavirus, the demand for oxygen concentrator has seen a spike. India is currently struggling to cope with an acute oxygen crisis. The surge in demand, observed in many states including Delhi, Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, led to an acute shortage of oxygen in the country, with many hospitals sending SOS messages.Also Read - Marshall Islands Witnesses COVID Outbreak For First Time in 2 Years. Here’s How it Plans to Control Pandemic

Lack of oxygen support has also led to several deaths in the national capital. At this juncture, oxygen concentrators have become a necessity. Also Read - Lockdown Ahead? As Delhi Covid Cases Spike, LG Saxena Urges People to Follow Covid-Appropriate Behaviour

What are Oxygen Concentrators?

Concentrators are small device supplying supplementary oxygen-enriched air to people requiring oxygen therapy. They are generally used for patients with lung and other respiratory diseases. Also Read - No More Work From Home: This Tech Giant Calls Employees Back to Office From September. Detailed Plan Here

When should one use Oxygen Concentrator?

“In the case of Covid-19 patients, who feel breathless when their oxygen saturation drops below 94 per cent, then he or she must be put on Oxygen Therapy immediately to avoid damage to other body parts. Oxygen concentrators play an important role as they supply supplemental oxygen to patients via nasal cannula,” Sunil Khurana, MD and CEO at BPL Medical Technologies in New Delhi, told IANS.

“Oxygen concentrators work like the air conditioning machine. It takes the oxygen from the air, modifies it and releases it in a different form. Oxygen concentrators concentrate the ambient oxygen,” added Dr Ravi Shekhar Jha, HOD and Senior Consultant Pulmonology, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad.

How do these machines work?

An oxygen concentrator is an electronically operated device that separates oxygen from room air. It provides high concentration of oxygen directly to you through a nasal cannula.

“Clinical studies have documented that oxygen concentrators are therapeutically equivalent to other types of oxygen delivery systems,” Khurana said.

Oxygen concentrators are widely used for oxygen provision in healthcare applications, especially where liquid or pressurised oxygen is too dangerous or inconvenient, such as in homes or in portable clinics.

“They work on the principle of ‘rapid pressure swing absorption’ which is where the nitrogen is removed from the air using zeolite minerals which absorb the nitrogen, leaving the other gases to pass through and leaving oxygen as the primary gas. Once the oxygen is collected, the pressure then drops which allows nitrogen to desorb and be expelled back into the air through silencers,” Khurana explained.

Oxygen concentrators are portable and easy to use and are thus better than oxygen cylinders. Although at Rs 40,000-Rs 90,000, they are more expensive than cylinders (Rs 8,000-20,000), they require very minimal maintenance.

The only maintenance cost is power consumption and the disposable filters and sieve beds that need to be replaced over years of usage, Khurana said.

While oxygen concentrator devices can be used at the convenience of patients under the supervision of doctors or healthcare workers, the stand-alone cylinder needs to be refilled and needs utmost care and monitoring as there are chances of leakage and can cause fire accidents.

“Oxygen concentrators do not have limitations of refilling. It takes oxygen from the air itself, which enables unlimited supply of oxygen till electricity is available. Oxygen concentrator is a more safe option compared to the Oxygen cylinders, because cylinders can sometimes leak and oxygen saturation increases the risk of fire,” Jha told IANS.

Oxygen concentrators produce up to 95 per cent pure oxygen. It also has in-built oxygen sensors which can indicate if purity levels go down, Khuranna said.

While the total market size in India is 40,000 units, the sudden peak in demand is likely going to affect the quality as there are not enough manufacturers in the country. “Most of the devices are manufactured in China and part of raw material is manufactured in the US. India Inc was never prepared to cater to this huge surge in demand,” Khuranna said.

Types of Oxygen Concentrators?

You should know that there are two types of concentrators available in the market— continuous flow and pulse dose. Continuous flow oxygen provides the same flow of oxygen every minute unless it is turned off irrespective of whether the patient is breathing it in or not, while pulse dose oxygen concentrator detects breathing pattern and dispenses oxygen when it detects inhalation, according to Indian Express report.

Importers and Manufacturers in India

Common importers and manufacturers in India are Phillips, BPL Medical Technologies Ltd, Invacare, AirSep corporation, SS Technologies, Oshocorp Global Pvt Ltd, Medtronic, Inogen, Nidek Medical, Chart Industries.

Things to keep in mind before buying or renting an oxygen concentrator

Normal air will have 21 per cent oxygen. Concentrator sucks atmospheric air, filter nitrogen and other gases and compresses remaining oxygen dispense it through the cannula. Indian Express report says that “If f 1 litre oxygen is provided to patient through concentrator, the oxygen percentage (or fraction of inspired air) in lungs rises to 24 per cent, with 2 litres it rises to 28 per cent and with 10 litres it rises to 60 per cent. Depending on need, the litres of oxygen per minute have to be regulated.”

You should take a physician’s advice before giving oxygen to a patience. You should always keep a pulse oximeter with you. ‘Oxygen concentrators can supply between 0.1 litres per minute (LPM) to 5 to 10 LPM. A concentrator has 92-95 per cent pure oxygen,’ read the report.