Malaysia

Amid widespread advertising, MMA warns that oxygen supplementation should only be given under strict medical supervision


MMA president Professor Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy. — Borneo Post pic
MMA president Professor Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy. — Borneo Post pic

KUCHING, Sept 12 — The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) is deeply concerned over the widespread advertising of oxygen supplementation canisters which supplies 99 per cent pure oxygen for home use.

In one of the advertisements, the company even highlighted that the product has been approved by the Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH) and used a picture of a child to indicate that the oxygen supplementation is safe for children.

“The MMA would like to stress that unregulated sales and purchase of oxygen supplementation should stop as the practice is not beneficial and may even be harmful to the patient. Aside from this, it is also a fire hazard. Oxygen supplementation should only be part of prescription from registered medical practitioners,” said MMA president Professor Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy in a statement yesterday.

According to University of Malaya Professor of Occupational and Public Health Dr Victor Hoe, “The air we breathe contains 21 per cent oxygen; this is the optimum amount of oxygen that our body is used to.

Everywhere around the world people have been living on 21 per cent oxygen. It does not matter if you are in the equator or on top of Mount Everest, the amount of oxygen is still 21 per cent. Of course, the air on Mount Everest may be thinner, however, it still only contains 21 per cent oxygen.”

Dr Hoe who is also a MMA Wilayah Branch life member said that in the current Covid-19 pandemic, many people are trying to supplement the atmospheric oxygen that they breathe with either oxygen concentrators or canister oxygen.

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The reason for this is that there is information about people with Covid-19 who having decreased partial pressure of oxygen (PaO2) in their blood.

The Ministry of Health advised people who have Covid-19 in Category 1 and 2 under home isolation to monitor their PaO2 and it is important for everyone to understand that all patients with Covid-19 under home isolation are monitored closely by healthcare workers.

If there is any deterioration in their PaO2 the Covid-19 patients would be admitted to the hospitals for further assessment and treatment, he said.

“This is because PaO2 deterioration indicates that the disease has worsened and is affecting the lungs or heart. When this happens, the patient needs to be assessed by a doctor in a clinic or hospital. It is not advisable for the patient to use supplemental oxygen because by using the supplemental oxygen, although the PaO2 maybe be normal but the lung or heart could continue to deteriorate.

“Oxygen supplementation should only be given under strict medical advice and supervision. For home use oxygen is only prescribed to patients that have chronic low PaO2 due to chronic lung or heart conditions and should only be given in a controlled amount. This is because excessive oxygen is not beneficial and can be toxic to the patient.”

“Paracelsus von Hohenheim the Swiss physician and father of toxicology has said that ‘All things are poison, and nothing is without poison; the dosage alone makes it so a thing is not a poison.’ This holds true for oxygen. There are many complications that arise from breathing 100 per cent oxygen for a prolonged period of time,” Dr Hoe said.

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He added that oxygen coming out from the canister is cold and dry and it needs to be conditioned before it can breathed. Breathing cold and dry air can damage the lungs and increase the risk to get lung infection.

“The oxygen canister is also a fire hazard. When we are using high concentration of oxygen the risk of fire is there and we need to ensure that the surroundings are free from sparks, flammable liquid, and objects.” he cautioned. — Borneo Post



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