The whole world is in turmoil and humankind is endangered due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Our neighboring countries are already in terrible condition due to the second wave while other parts of the world are also facing a critical situation. This time the new coronavirus is infecting the lungs badly. Once infected, the patient’s shortness of breath increases. So urgent oxygen becomes necessary to save lives and liquid medical oxygen comes as a lifesaver. Here we have discussed some essential facts about liquid medical oxygen, its production procedure and application in COVID-19 treatment.
What is Liquid Medical Oxygen? How is it different from Industrial Oxygen?
Liquid Medical Oxygen is highly pure oxygen that is usually used for medical purposes only. It is specially produced for the human body. Because of its low melting and boiling points, it remains in a gaseous state even at room temperature. However, liquification gives an easy transportation solution and lets you store in larger volumes.
On the other hand, industrial oxygen is used for industrial settings such as combustion, oxidation, manufacturing plants, and more. Furthermore, industrial oxygen can accelerate some chemical reactions too. The steelmaking industry is one of the biggest users of industrial oxygen. However, this kind of oxygen is not intended for the human body.
The biggest difference between medical and industrial oxygen is that industrial oxygen is not safe to inhale. It is because the purity level is not up to the mark and it may contain contaminants from the tanks. On the other hand, medical oxygen tanks are different.
While medical oxygen is solely used for the medical purpose only, industrial oxygen has multiple uses such as:
– Manufacturing the metal items, for instance, steel production.
– Cutting, welding, flame cleaning, etc.
– It can also use as a bleaching chemical that helps to create paper and paper-based items.
– Assist to create certain fuel
Oxygen is necessary for human breathing to function the body properly. If the respiratory is not taking the oxygens properly, medical intervention is needed. Medical oxygen comes in handy to maintain a good blood oxygen level, otherwise, it can create serious health consequences, even lead to death. So a proper amount of medical oxygen is essential or else the imbalanced medical oxygen can lead to toxicity.
While medical oxygen is regulated properly to ensure high purity, industrial oxygen doesn’t care about purity. As a result, industrial oxygen may contain irregular items and harmful contaminants. Therefore, industrial oxygen is not perfect to use for medical purposes.
How is Liquid Medical Oxygen produced?
Liquid Medical Oxygen has different production methods. The most common production method is the air separation unit or the ASU method. There are also fractional distillation methods, in which the gases obtained from the atmosphere are separated into different components after cooling in the liquid state and then liquid oxygen is extracted from there.
Cryogenic is a method of producing medical oxygen at very low temperatures. It is a type of liquid that has a normal boiling point level below -90 degrees Celsius is called a cryogenic liquid. There is a special type of container to store this kind of liquid. Cryogenic liquid containers are specially designed to be transported safely and at a very low cost. It is stored as liquid gas even at cryogenic temperatures below -90 C. These containers are made in such a way that liquid gas can be stored at very low temperatures.
Pressure Swing Absorption Technology
It is a non-cryogenic oxygen production method. Oxygen can be produced in this way by applying a certain amount of high pressure. Hospitals can produce oxygen using this method.
The pressure swing method works under high pressure via a vessel that contains an adsorbent bed of ‘zeolite’ which eventually attracts the nitrogen more strongly than the oxygen. The nitrogen will stay in the bed and the gas leaving the vessel will be filled with oxygen.
Further, this will reduce the cost of transporting oxygen to hospitals.
In addition to these sources of medical oxygen, there are also portable oxygen generators known as oxygen concentrators, which can be used at home.
When is Liquid Medical Oxygen used for Covid Treatment?
If the patient’s oxygen saturation drops below 90%, the person will need external oxygen support. But before that, the warning signs should be looked at. To determine if the patient needs liquid oxygen support, a simple test can be done called the walk test.
To complete the test the patient should be instructed to walk for six minutes. The oxygen level before and after the work should be measured. If the patient cannot finish the six minutes or is in a condition not to be able to walk, immediate oxygen support is necessary and may also need to be hospitalized.
Further, if the oxygen level decreased by more than three percent from 96% to 93% percent after the six-minute walk, it can be a sign that the lungs are significantly affected.
Apart from observing the oxygen saturation, when a coronavirus patient reaches the critical stage, he or she has difficulty in breathing. At that time oxygen is needed.
How COVID affect the Lungs?
Coronavirus mainly affects the lungs. COVID can affect the lungs in many ways. But most commonly a white fog covering the lungs can be seen after being infected with the coronavirus – much like broken glass.
When the coronavirus severely affects, when the body’s immune system becomes over-activated, it produces large amounts of mucus, water, and cells, which fill the airways in the lungs called the alveoli. When this happens, pneumonia occurs and it is not possible for people to breathe without the help of oxygen support. After a few weeks of the attack, the lungs may reach the damaging stage which is known as pulmonary fibrosis. Doctors say pulmonary fibrosis is the first sign of a lesion in the lungs.
Pulmonary fibrosis is a disease in which the soft parts of the lungs are damaged and there are sores. This causes the lung tissue to thicken and harden so that the air sacs in the lungs cannot function properly. In some patients, this results in difficulty breathing and fatigue.
Not only that, the risk of getting other types of lung infections increases in the future. This disease is not curable. On the contrary, in some cases it can take a more serious form i.e., the condition of this patient is deteriorating day by day.
Types of Oxygen Therapy needed for COVID Patients
Symptoms of oxygen degradation include shortness of breath, discomfort, difficulty waking up, and blueness of the face and lips. Adults may also have chest pain. Children will have difficulty breathing and a swollen nose. Babies will sigh during breathing and will have difficulty eating or drinking.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hypoxemia (low oxygen levels in the blood) can lead to fatalities. When oxygen levels are reduced due to an illness like Covid-19, the body’s cells cannot receive enough oxygen to function normally. If it continues for a long time and lacks treatment, the body organs begin to malfunction. In many cases, it can be the cause of death. Thus oxygen therapy is needed. Following are the basic oxygen therapies.
Proning has been suggested for patients with covid treatment at home. It improves the patient’s breathing and increases the level of oxygen in the blood.
Use of Oxygen Concentrator
Oxygen concentrator usually collects oxygen and nitrogen available in the air and supply the fresh air to the patient via the Oxygen Mask or Nasal Cannula. Oxygen concentrators can produce 95% pure oxygen. It contains an oxygen sensor to show the amount of supplied pure air. However, it should be used with a doctor’s advice.
Because every patient needs a certain speed of airflow. The patient should take the oxygen according to the doctor’s advice. However, a different level of electric energy is needed to use the oxygen concentrator. If you use it with the advice of a doctor, even if there is no electricity, you can use it via the backup battery.
The main goal of these two oxygen therapies is to maintain the oxygen saturation level in the blood at 94 percent. Oxygen therapy can be stopped if the patient has an oxygen level of 93 to 94 percent. This is because excess oxygen increases the level of carbon dioxide, which can lead to a number of problems for the patient.
Safety precautions for Liquid Medical Oxygen
If the temperature is high enough, any object can burn when it comes in contact with oxygen. Therefore, it is important to take safety precautions in hospitals and homes where excess oxygen is stored during the Covid-19 period. Appropriate firefighting systems and personnel training are also needed. There are also other requirements and rules for the use of medical oxygen. A person looking for medical oxygen must have a prescription.
When the oxygen level in the blood drops below the usual level, the brain also lacks oxygen – which is very dangerous. Therefore, every individual should be careful about the oxygen level in the body and should be aware of all the necessary steps reading supplying the oxygen in the body.