Covid-19: Supplemental oxygen should only be given under strict medical advice, says MMA

PETALING JAYA: Supplemental oxygen should only be given under strict medical advice and supervision, says the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).

Its president Prof Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said that the unregulated sales and purchase of oxygen supplementation canisters should stop, as it is not beneficial and may instead cause harm.

“We are deeply concerned over the widespread advertising of these canisters for home use.

“Apart from the product being harmful when used incorrectly, it can also present itself as a fire hazard.

“It must be stressed that oxygen supplementation should only be used as part of a prescription from registered medical practitioners,” he said in a statement on Saturday (Sept 11).

He added that there were also advertisements highlighting the products as approved by the Health Ministry.

The said advertisement also included a child to imply that oxygen supplementation was safe for children.

Professor of Occupational and Public Health at University Malaya Dr Victor Hoe said the current Covid-19 pandemic saw many attempting to supplement atmospheric oxygen with either oxygen concentrators or oxygen canisters.

“This stems from information that people infected with Covid-19 have a decreased partial pressure of oxygen (PaO2) in their blood.

“Home use oxygen supplementation is only prescribed for patients with chronically low PaO2 levels due to chronic lung or heart conditions.

“Even then, it should only be given in controlled amounts as excessive levels can be toxic for the patient,” he said.

Dr Hoe, who is also a life member of the Federal Territories MMA branch, added that oxygen from the canister is cold and dry which requires it to be conditioned before being used safely.

“Breathing cold and dry oxygen can pose damage to the lungs, while also increasing the risk of lung infections such as Covid-19,” he said.

He stressed that oxygen canisters also posed a fire hazard and users should ensure their surroundings were free from sparks, flammable liquid and objects before use.

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