As COVID-19 numbers spiral in the country, demand for oxygen cylinders and concentrators has also gone through the roof. While cylinders need regular refilling, concentrators do not need much follow-up action, can be easily operated at home and are thus becoming the more most sought-after device.

How does a concentrator work?

Most oxygen concentrators needs to be plugged into a source of electricity and once switched on, it takes in air and separates the oxygen and delivers it into a person via a nasal cannula. The air around us consists of about 78% of nitrogen and 21% of oxygen, with other gases making up the remaining 1%. Most concentrators comprise a compressor and 2 sieve bed filter. The compressor sucks in atmospheric air, passes it through sieve bed, which separates the nitrogen and releases oxygen into a tank that’s connected to the cannula.

Who can use a concentrator?

Those with mild respiratory infection and with oxygen saturation levels below 90% can benefit from the use of a concentrator. It delivers pure oxygen and eases the burden on the lungs. However in severe respiratory infection, it may be necessary to provide oxygen that is almost 99% pure and a oxygen concentrator cannot do that.

“If your oxygen saturation level is between 90-94 you can certainly use oxygen concentrators. However, if the oxygen level drops more than that, it is advisable to switch to other medical supplies such as oxygen cylinder,” Dr Rajesh Deshpande told The Quint.

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What to look for in a concentrator?

Concentrators come with varying oxygen outputs. For COVID-19 patients, a device with a 5L-10 L output is said to be feasible.

Always look for a concentrator with an oxygen purity indicator (OPI). These indicators show the purity of oxygen in air. What’s important though is that it delivers air that contains at least 90% pure oxygen.

How much does a concentrator cost in India?

Depending on the output, the price varies from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh.