The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and death toll are increasing day by day. Too many cases have put a huge pressure on the health care system, leading to many patients dying without treatment. The hunt for medicine is coming to and end. In the meantime, some people are choosing weird ways to deal with COVID-19 disease. Yes! we are talking about people buying Oxygen Cylinders and storing them at home or nearby places.
Read this article to know: who requires Oxygen therapy; why storing Oxygen cylinder at home could be dangerous, and many other related facts.
What is Oxygen Therapy?
Oxygen is a kind of gas, which is necessary for the survival of human beings. Even a healthy human can die within three minutes without oxygen. People with breathing disorders may require extra oxygen, if they cannot receive enough oxygen from the air in a natural way.
Oxygen therapy is a treatment that provides patients with extra oxygen to breathe in. It is also termed as supplemental oxygen. This kind of therapy is only available through the prescription of authorised doctors or health care providers.
Who Needs Oxygen Therapy?
Oxygen therapy or supplemental oxygen treatment is usually prescribed for patients whose lungs are failing to absorb enough oxygen from the air in a natural way. This complicacy usually happens due to some critical diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung disease, pneumonia, broncho-pulmonary dysplasia, cystic fibrosis, asthma, heart failure, sleep apnea, trauma in respiratory system, etc.
Why Is Oxygen Therapy Given in COVID-19 Treatment?
Not every COVID-19 patient experiences breathing problem. In some cases, COVID-19 disease caused by novel Coronavirus (Sars-COV-2) tends to infect and damage lungs, making the organ less effective in passing oxygen from the air to bloodstream.
COVID-19 patients who are experiencing severe breathing problems are admitted to hospital for receiving supplemental oxygen. The oxygen therapy is provided through nose via plastic tubing, or using a loose-fitting face mask.
If the patient needs more oxygen to improve oxygen level in blood, then ‘Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)’ treatment is prescribed to facilitate the circulation of gases in and out of the lungs. In this treatment, Oxygen is given via a tightly-fitting mask connected to a machine via plastic tubing. Doctors control how much oxygen at what pressure to deliver. Usually, this treatment requires large amount of oxygen, which is usually available at the hospitals.
A small proportion of the most severely ill COVID-19 patients are provided invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV) treatment. In this case, a breathing tube is inserted into the windpipe (intubation) of the patient. Doctors control the amount and pressure of delivered oxygen by the ventilator which does the breathing function for the patient. IMV treatment is provided for 10 days on average. And only 33 percent patients treated with IMV has survived so far.
Does Every COVID-19 Patients Need Oxygen Supply?
There is no evidence of getting benefited by Oxygen Therapy if a COVID-19 patient is not suffering from abnormally low level of oxygen in the blood (Hypoxemia). In some cases, weak patients suffering from COVID-19 can get benefit from medically prescribed ventilator support.
According to health experts, only 82 percent of patients suffering from COVID-19 disease do not require any Oxygen Therapy treatment at all. These patients may recover through proper care while staying in isolation. Only 15 percent of the remaining 18 percent COVID-19 patients may suffer from severe breathing problem and require high quantities of oxygen flow to stay alive.
Why Shouldn’t You Store Oxygen Cylinder at Home?
Only Doctors can Provide Oxygen Therapy Safely
Both the high and low amount of oxygen saturation in blood can be dangerous. Only doctors can decide whether a patient with COVID-19 requires Oxygen Therapy. Even if you manage an Oxygen Cylinder at home for treating a COVID-19 patient, you cannot use it unless you are a doctor. The pressure and amount of Oxygen Supply must be controlled by a doctor or an authorised health care provider. So, there is no point in storing Oxygen cylinders at home in advance without medical prescription.
Oxygen Cylinder Can Explode Like a Bomb
Though oxygen gas does not burn, it works like an oxidizer, which supports the process of combustion. For instance, you have stored an oxygen cylinder at or a nearby place of your home. Now, if somehow a fire starts within three metres of that oxygen cylinder, it can create a blast and feed the flames. It can even blow up your home like a bomb.
Activities like smoking, applying electrical equipment or keeping flammable objects like petrol, aerosol, cleaning fuel, alcoholic solutions, oil, grease, etc at the vicinity of Oxygen cylinder can be dangerous. Even an open flame or a heating source like candle, or gas stove brought within three metre of the oxygen cylinder can initiate the spark.
The oxygen-sustained fire can burn until the last drop of remaining oxygen in the cylinder. Therefore, it is never a good idea to store oxygen cylinder at home.
Oxygen Cylinder Shortage at Hospitals
In recent days, some people are storing oxygen cylinders at home in advance even before getting infected by COVID-19 while some unscrupulous businessmen are storing Oxygen cylinders to sell them higher prices later.
As a result, crisis of oxygen cylinders has been created at hospitals. It can be dangerous for the severely ill COVID-19 patients who are in dire need of prescribed Oxygen Therapy.
Price Hike Of Oxygen Cylinders
Unwanted storage of Oxygen Cylinders has led to an almost three-fold price hike. For instance, nowadays, a 1400-liter oxygen cylinder costs about Tk 35,000, which was available at Tk 11,000 only a few months back. This situation may continue if unauthorised purchase and storage of oxygen cylinder are not monitored and controlled.
How to Monitor Oxygen Saturation at Home?
To determine whether a COVID-19 patient requires oxygen therapy, doctors test the amount of oxygen in his/her arterial blood. You can also measure oxygen saturation at home by clipping a finger using a pulse oximeter.
This portable device can indirectly measure the level of oxygen in a human body without taking a blood sample. According to the measurements of a ‘Pulse Oximeter’, normal levels of blood oxygen stay between 95 to 100 percent. If the oxygen saturation drops below 90 percent, the patient may suffer from Hypoxemia.
The common symptoms of Hypoxemia include rapid breathing, fast heart rate, shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, sweating, changes skin-colour, confusion, etc. If you are currently experiencing any of these symptoms, seek medical assistance immediately.
Therefore, you can easily check the oxygen level of your body and stay healthy without being crazy for storing oxygen cylinders at home.
What Can You Do With Your Stored Oxygen Cylinders?
You can donate the oxygen cylinder to nearby hospital and contribute in the fight of humanity against the life-threatening COVID-19 pandemic.