DOH to public: Improper use of oxygen tanks can be harmful

Published August 11, 2021, 2:00 PM

by Analou de Vera

Relatives of COVID-19 patients purchase medical grade oxygen in a pharmacy in Cebu City. (Juan Carlo de Vela/Manila Bulletin)

The Department of Health (DOH) encouraged the public not to purchase oxygen tanks for home use if not necessary, saying that it can cause harm to one’s health if used improperly.

“Huwag kayong bibili or maglalagay ng oxygen sa inyong bahay kung hindi kinakailangan. Kailangan po natin pag ingatan ang paggamit ng oxygen (Don’t buy or put oxygen in your home if it is not necessary. We need to be careful with the use of oxygen),” said DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Wednesday, August 11, during an online forum.

“Please avoid buying oxygen right now if it is really not needed,” she added.

Vergeire said that the use of oxygen should be prescribed by doctors.

“We call it medical grade oxygen and these are prescribed commodities dahil ito ay kailangan guided kayo ng inyong doktor para gamitin niyo ang oxygen (because you need to be guided by your doctor on how to use the oxygen),” she said.

DOH-Central Visayas Director Dr. Jaime Bernadas also issued the same statement.

“The inappropriate use of medical grade oxygen without medical supervision can lead to Oxygen Toxicity due to breathing in too much or unregulated amount of oxygen,” he said.

“This leads to trauma of the lung tissue. For an individual whose lungs are already inflamed due to SARS-CoV-2 virus infection, unsupervised Oxygen Therapy can lead to more damage and even death,” he added.

Vergeire also warned that oxygen tanks are flammable materials.

“Ang pinaka paalala natin sa ating mga kababayan, flammable po ang oxygen. Konting trigger lang diyan maaaring magkaroon ng sakuna sa inyong pamamahay (We are reminding our citizens that oxygen is flammable. Just a few triggers and it can cause damage in your homes),” she said.

The DOH advised the public to immediately contact medical providers if they experienced symptoms of COVID-19.

“It is advised that suspected symptomatic individuals seek immediate medical attention for appropriate management,” said Bernadas.

Meanwhile, Vergeire said that it is important for the public to have basic medical equipment or medicines in their respective homes.

“Unang-una na kailangan sa inyong bahay ay thermometer. Kailangan mamonitor ninyo ang inyong temperature kung kayo ay nilalagnat or hindi (The first thing you need in you home is a thermometer. You need to monitor your temperature to determine if you have a fever or not),” she said.

“Kung meron din kayong pulse oximeter, kung sakaling kakayanin ng budget at kung makakapagbigay assistance ang local government. This is for you to measure yung oxygen level niyo para alam niyo kung kailan talaga kailangan pumunta sa isang facility (If you also have a pulse oximeter, if your budget can afford it or if the local government can provide such assistance. This is for you to measure your oxygen level so you know when you really need to go to a medical facility),” she added.

The public should also have common medicines such as those for fever and colds.

“Huwag kayong iinom ng antibiotics ng hindi pineprescribe ng ating mga doktor… Kailangan malaman kung talagang kakailanganin natin ng antibiotics or hindi (Don’t take antibiotics without prescription from doctors. We need to know if we really need to take antibiotics or not),” she added.