The brutal second wave of COVID has wreaked havoc all around. The impact is so much lethal that thousands of people have lost their lives to this deadly virus. Saying it has shattered the medical infrastructure of the country would not be an exaggeration as containing and catering to the medical needs of such a huge population is close to impossible.
With infrastructural and human resources being stretched beyond their limits as a consequence of the pandemic, the demand for home care equipment has mind-bogglingly increased. Owing to the outburst of COVID cases, people are now compelled to understand the basics of home care equipment such as pulse oximeters, vaporiser machines, oxygen cylinders, oxygen concentrators, home ICU support, home ventilators, etc. so that they can look after their loved ones in a better way.
The need for oxygen cylinders at home
As COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, it majorly affects the lungs of people and poses breathing problems, from mild to critical. Older adults and people with medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and cancer are more vulnerable and thus may have serious symptoms.
With lung infections becoming the most common problem during the second wave of COVID-19, a tremendous increase in oxygen requirements has been noticed across the nation. Patients who could not find a bed were advised to use oxygen cylinders at home to maintain oxygen levels and prevent fatalities.
The write-up highlights the condition when may need to go for oxygen therapy, the difference between oxygen cylinder and concentrators, and important tips regarding oxygen cylinder for home use.
When should one get oxygen support?
Concerned doctors may recommend the patients to go for oxygen therapy whose oxygen levels drop below the normal range which in general is 95-99%. However, the need may vary from person to person. For instance, the normal range doesn’t apply for people with chronic lung conditions and other breathing issues such as asthma, COPD, influenza, and others.
Besides, due to the lack of adequate data and different opinions of experts who are still trying to figure out the true nature of this fatal virus, there are no sure-shot recommendations that the general public can follow.
Speaking of the warning signs of low oxygen levels, they include:
• Bluish lips or decolouration of face and tongue
• Trouble breathing
• Difficulty waking up
• Chest pain that doesn’t go away
• Joint pain
Depending on the severity of the symptoms, the doctor may recommend hospitalisation. However, some patients may not show these symptoms at all and that is why this virus is so dangerous. It’s unpredictable in terms of how it reacts to different people.
So, preventive health care is paramount in times like these. The focus must be to follow all the protocols without fail, strengthen the immune system, and perform breathing exercises to mitigate the risk of lowering oxygen levels. To ensure the elderly members of the family get the utmost care and support, one can even go for seniors’ care services at home.
As far as oxygen therapy is concerned, there are two ways people can go: oxygen cylinders and oxygen concentrators. Let’s understand the difference between these two.
Oxygen concentrators vs. oxygen cylinders
Today, people who are desperate and concerned for the safety of their loved ones want to have everything at home, be it oxygen cylinder set up or professional caregivers’ services like a nurse at home service for the constant monitoring of the patient. However, while there is an anxious run among people to have everything at their disposal, it is imperative that they understand the difference between things like oxygen concentrators and oxygen cylinders so that they can make the best decision.
An oxygen concentrator simply purifies the air in the ambience and makes it available for the patient whose oxygen levels are below the normal range. To operate, oxygen concentrators need to be plugged into a power source. Speaking of the oxygen cylinders, they accomplish the same task, but they are for immediate use and is already compressed within the tank. Oxygen cylinders come in a different capacity and the supply in them is gradually reduced until they are completely used. Once empty, they need to be refilled or replaced as per the requirements.
How to operate an oxygen cylinder?
To understand how to use an oxygen cylinder, you need to learn about its components and settings. More or less, oxygen cylinders available in the Indian market are operated in the same way with a little or no difference. In some, you get a T-handle and in some, you get a wheel type knob valve.
Speaking of the parts of an oxygen cylinder, it includes a pressure gauge, flow regulator knob, humidifier bottle, nasal cannula, surgical mask, adapter, and of course a cylinder.
Now let us take a look at some basic steps to understand how to use oxygen cylinders at home:
• Once you procure the cylinder, make sure you get a clear directive on how to use the oxygen cylinder for the patient at home.
• Once you bring the oxygen cylinder at home, make sure the regulator know is set at zero before use.
• Check, if the T-handle is tight.
• With the help of a wrench, turn the cylinder’s valve on.
• After the valve is open, check the gauge to see the pressure.
• Adjust the flow using the flow regulator knob to the rate that the doctor has prescribed.
• Attach the nasal tube to the regulator and it is ready to use.
Note: These steps are indicative and may vary. For exact guidelines on how to use portable or regular oxygen cylinder, it is better to seek the help of medical professionals or the person selling the cylinder.
Patients, using an oxygen cylinder at home, get oxygen supply with the help of a surgical mask over the nasal cannula. So, in case the surgical mask doesn’t come with the oxygen cylinder, you will have to buy it separately.
Besides the aforementioned steps on how to use an oxygen cylinder at home, you must also be aware of the oxygen cylinder installation/uninstallation. Once the available cylinder gets empty and you get a new one, you will have to be careful during the uninstallation and installation of the new cylinder. For that, you can simply remove the nasal tube, turn the cylinder’s value off, and then attach the new cylinder.
For detailed precautions like dos and don’ts, make sure you consult your doctor. With the Emoha COVID Add-On, we are working doubly hard to ensure our elders get the best possible COVID care for faster recovery. For us, it is always #EldersFirst