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What is an Oxygen Cylinder?

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 04/08/2022

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic took the world of healthcare by storm and heightened the importance of physical and mental well-being. It also revealed that in light of such unforeseeable circumstances, a medical health insurance plan becomes indispensable.

After the COVID-19 outbreak, several insurance providers stepped up to include COVID-19 care in their health insurance cover. As the illness directly impacted lung health, patients had to undergo oxygen therapy aided through the use of medical devices such as a medical oxygen cylinder and oxygen concentrators to help make breathing easier.

So, let us understand what is an oxygen cylinder, how an oxygen cylinder works, and what are the different types of oxygen cylinders.

What is an Oxygen Cylinder?

An oxygen tank, more commonly known as an oxygen cylinder, is a medical device that supplements patients with the required oxygen. It is provided to patients who are suffering from respiratory issues or to those who have low blood oxygen levels. The oxygen that is stored in the cylinder is dispensed to the patient through either of the following: oxygen mask, nasal tubes, or oxygen rebreather.

How Does an Oxygen Cylinder Work?

Typically, an oxygen cylinder comprises a pressure gauge, flow regulator, humidifier, nasal cannula, surgical mask, adapter, and cylinder. The procedure to operate the cylinder is:

  • Start with turning the cylinder’s valve on
  • Once the valve is open, manage the pressure by checking the gauge and ensuring that there is enough oxygen in the tank
  • With the help of the flow regulator, adjust the flow to the rate that is prescribed by the doctor
  • Finally, attach the nasal prongs and tubes to the patient so they can breathe comfortably

Patients who require oxygen therapy for an extended period can use a portable oxygen cylinder. With the help of a portable oxygen cylinder, patients can continue with their routine tasks as they can carry the cylinder to where they need to go.

Types of Oxygen Cylinders

Oxygen cylinders are differentiated by how the oxygen is stored in the tank, which is either in a gaseous or liquid form. Either way, regardless of the kind of cylinder you choose, the storage is 95.5% pure oxygen:

Compressed Oxygen Gas : In this type of cylinder, the oxygen is extracted from the air and compressed inside the aluminium tank with as much as 2,200 pounds per square inch (PSI) of pressure. With such a high pressure, when the gas is released, the oxygen is forced out into the oxygen mask or the nasal tube.

Liquid Oxygen: In this kind of oxygen tank, the oxygen is cooled to -182.8°C in the liquid form and stored in a special tank that ensures that the liquid remains cool. When exposed to warm temperature, the liquid transforms into gas and flows through the delivery device.

However, before purchasing a medical oxygen cylinder, it is important to be aware of the specificities and confirm these with your doctor. For instance, it is important to know the kind of flow regulator required by the patient. An oxygen cylinder regulator converts pressurised oxygen into a specific flow which can be measured by litres per minute, and there are two main types of oxygen cylinder regulator:

  • A continuous flow that dispenses the same level of oxygen intermittently
  • A pulse dose flow that releases oxygen in short bursts when the patient inhales

Other types of oxygen cylinders, such as b-type oxygen cylinders, are used only for clinical purposes. The b type oxygen cylinder is refillable and is used as essential life support during anaesthesia and therapeutic purposes. In India, there are three sizes of O2 cylinders depending on their oxygen cylinder capacity: 660L, 1360L, and 6900L.

When to Use an Oxygen Cylinder?

One must only use an oxygen cylinder when prescribed by a doctor. It is usually recommended for patients who need to be supplemented with oxygen when they have low blood oxygen levels. Devices such as the pulse oximeter help monitor the oxygen levels in the blood by measuring the oxygen saturation.

In healthy individuals, the oxygen saturation levels are expected to be above 92-95%, and if it falls lower, the doctor might recommend supplementing the individual with oxygen. Every aspect of oxygen therapy, right from prescribing it to deciding how often and for how long the cylinder will be needed, is decided by a professional medical practitioner.

The Role of Oxygen Cylinders in Fighting COVID-19

The patients suffering from the COVID-19 illness developed several respiratory and lung problems, and according to the WHO, as many as 14% of the patients displayed severe symptoms that needed hospitalisation and oxygen therapy. Considering this, oxygen cylinders played an integral role in fighting against COVID-19, particularly when used in conjunction with the pulse oximeter to continually monitor the oxygen saturation levels.

However, with a rise in COVID-19 patients, the oxygen cylinder price witnessed a sudden jump to almost double its former prices. People fail to realise that oxygen tanks are often only a temporary measure to ease the burden of patients who are finding it difficult to breathe. Moreover, it is important to bear in mind that the oxygen cylinder does not promise an immediate restoration of the patient’s blood oxygen levels.

To Conclude

In the post-pandemic world, it has become essential to learn how to take care of your health. However, incomplete knowledge is dangerous, so it is essential to consult your doctor instead of conducting self-diagnosis and worsening the condition. Additionally, with changing lifestyles characterised by poor health and rising medical expenses, it is important to invest in health insurance.

The benefits of health insurance extend beyond providing financial cover and offer the insured member peace of mind in troubling times. That is why Tata AIG offers a host of health insurance plans to its customers, offering 360-degree coverage. However, before investing in a medical insurance plan, you can compare different health insurance policies on Tata AIG’s website to ensure optimum coverage that has been specifically tailored to meet your requirements. You must also make sure your medical insurance plan includes cover for recent illnesses to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

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