What Are Oxygen Concentrators? What to Check Before Buying One?

We spoke to health care experts to understand when oxygen concentrators should be used.

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As coronavirus cases continue to mount and many report a sharp drop in SPO2 levels, oxygen concentrators or generators are in high demand across the country.

But what are these concentrators and how do you know which one to purchase? We answer all queries you may have.

What are oxygen concentrators?

Oxygen concentrators are devices that take in ambient air and increase the oxygen concentration, by filtering out and throwing away nitrogen. These devices provide supplemental or extra oxygen to a patient.

Concentrators work the same way as an oxygen cylinder or tank, supplying O2 through use of masks and nasal tubes. However, while cylinders need refilling, oxygen concentrators can work 24x7 using electricity.

Who should use them and when?

Not everyone who finds their oxygen level dipping below normal levels can depend on a concentrator.

Professor and Head of Department Anaesthesia, B J Medical College, Pune, Prof Sanyogita Naik said that oxygen concentrators can only be used in moderate cases of COVID-19, and only in cases where the requirement is maximum 5 litres per minute.

“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 Deshpandey told The Quint.

Can you use oxygen concentrators at home?

Dr Deshpandey says that oxygen concentrators can only be used for mild COVID infection. “Seek the advice of your doctor before using concentrators. Patients can benefit from supplemental oxygen given through an oxygen concentrator, but only till they get hospital admission. It can prove to be harmful for patients using it without suitable medical advice.”

What are the different types of oxygen concentrators?

There are two types of oxygen concentrators – stationary and portable concentrator. Both portable and stationary generators have numerous advantages for patients needing supplemental oxygen support.

Both the devices manufacture their own oxygen without any additional or ongoing cost of refilling oxygen tanks.

The only difference is that a stationary oxygen support relies upon direct electric supply where as a portable can work on a battery too.

What should you check before buying an oxygen concentrator?

Before buying an oxygen concentrator, you should know the amount of oxygen per litre that you or the patient requires. Here are a few things to keep in mind before buying a concentrator, explains Pranav Kaishtha, Founder of Oxygen times.

  • As per CDC guidelines, if the oxygen level of a COVID patient is less than 90, it is recommended that the patient seeks oxygen support.
  • The capacity of the oxygen concentrator must be higher than your requirement. For example, if you require a 3.5 litre per minute (LPM) oxygen concentrator,  you should buy a 5 LPM concentrator.
  • Similarly, if your requirement is 5 LPM concentrator, you should purchase an 8 LPM machine.
  • Always look for a concentrator with an oxygen purity indicator (OPI). These indicators show the purity of oxygen in air.

“A 5 litre oxygen concentrator with more than 90 percent purity is the right choice for a small family consisting of 3 members. Meanwhile, for a family consisting of more than 5 members, a 10 litre generator would be an ideally better option. However, please consult a physician before buying a concentrator.”
Priyanka Golellu, Technical Scientist

What are the best oxygen concentrator machines to buy in India?

The Quint reached out to health professional and industry experts to know which are the best oxygen concentrators in the market. Here are some of the oxygen concentrators that health care experts recommend:

  • Philips Everflo Oxygen Concentrator: This device has a potential to provide upto 5 litres of airflow which is upto 93-96 percent pure. It is priced at Rs 50,000.
  • Dedakj De Oxygen Concentrator: This device can support up to 6-8 litres of oxygen and gives up to 93 percent purity levels. It is priced between Rs 45,000 to Rs 60,000
  • Evox 5S Oxygen Concentrator: This machine is priced at around Rs 40,000 and offers up to 5 litres at up to 96 percent purification levels. It weighs 15 kilograms.

How to buy oxygen concentrators online?

E-commerce websites like  Amazon and Flipkart are selling oxygen concentrators. In addition to this, here are some other websites you can order concentrators from:

  • ColMed
  • 1MG
  • Nightingales India
  • Healthklin
  • Healthgenie

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