Oxygen Tank -- What if the person's flow rate is too high? (2l/min. vs 4l/min.)

  • Thread starter Cobul
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Covid is surging again due to the Delta Variant.

I saw in the news of many oxygen tanks with people connected to them even outside in hospital tents.

I'd like to know something. If a person accidentally given more oxygen than required, for example. 4 Liter/Minute instead of 2 Liter/Minute. What damages can it do to the body? I heard it could cause free radicals. Is the damage instantaneous like the extra oxygen can cause many free radical damages for two days destroying the cells enough to give you cancer for just 2 day exposure.

Or is the effect long term for example 6 months use?
 

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  • #2
Tom.G
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From: https://www.sciencefocus.com/the-human-body/why-does-breathing-pure-oxygen-kill-you/


Our blood has evolved to capture the oxygen we breathe in and bind it safely to the transport molecule called haemoglobin. If you breathe air with a much higher than normal O2 concentration, the oxygen in the lungs overwhelms the blood’s ability to carry it away.

The result is that free oxygen binds to the surface proteins of the lungs, interferes with the operation of the central nervous system and also attacks the retina.



From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxygen_toxicity


Central nervous system


Central nervous system oxygen toxicity manifests as symptoms such as visual changes (especially tunnel vision), ringing in the ears (tinnitus), nausea, twitching (especially of the face), behavioural changes (irritability, anxiety, confusion), and dizziness. This may be followed by a tonic–clonic seizure consisting of two phases: intense muscle contraction occurs for several seconds (tonic phase); followed by rapid spasms of alternate muscle relaxation and contraction producing convulsive jerking (clonic phase). The seizure ends with a period of unconsciousness (the postictal state).[16][17]


(above found with:
https://www.google.com/search?&q=effect+of+breathing+pure+oxygen)

Although I have not found explicit times for the usual nasal cannula or the "Oxygen Mask", divers at 4 times atmospheric pressure (90 feet depth) can experience symptoms in as little as 6 minutes.

Or to put it in other words: Please Don't try it!


Cheers,
Tom
 
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  • #3
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IMHO, given lung volume and the indifferent seal of such masks and nasal cannulas, much of the oxygen is just wasted. An oxygen tent or pod is a different matter, but has its own dangers, chief being Apollo_1-grade fire...

Clinically, cannula / mask flow is tweaked to maintain acceptable patient blood level. Rather than iterate flow by fractions, and be slightly different for every patient, easier to set a standard rate.

IIRC, excessive rates should be avoided as lungs may get 'lazy', and is a waste of resource.

FWIW, IIRC, my wife (Before Covid) would be given an hour's 'boost' of higher flow-rate from time to time if she appeared too lethargic...
 
  • #4
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Thanks. But I was also asking about free radicals.

Do the free radicals that are produced by higher flowrate than necessary immediately affect the cells causing cancer or cellular destruction. Or do they only destroy if used long term?
Imagine in Covid hospitals. Many have oxygen say 4 liter/minute. Then what if in the middle, their lung functions improve requiring only 2 liter/minute, but the doctors are elsewhere attending to other Delta patients.

And let's say for one day, there is flowrate of 4 liter/minute instead of 2 liter/minute. Can the free radicals produced immediately destroy the cells. Or is the effect long term like many weeks under oxygen?

No. I don't have Delta or anyone I know. But just curious because Delta variant is said to be a global standard variant soon. So the worse may yet to come making India and Indonesia cases become normal everywhere.
 
  • #5
berkeman
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And let's say for one day, there is flowrate of 4 liter/minute instead of 2 liter/minute. Can the free radicals produced immediately destroy the cells. Or is the effect long term like many weeks under oxygen?
Sorry, we cannot provide medical advice here (per the PF rules). Please ask your family doctor about this. Thread is closed.
 
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