Recently many doctors in the emergency ward noticed that few COVID-19 patients have extremely fewer levels of oxygen but seem to be comfortable. This condition is called Silent hypoxia. Now, this is a major concern as the number of people with the virus is increasing exponentially and this condition would lead the doctors to rethink, the way to approach COVID-19 patients.
The main solution which is doing the rounds now is asking COVID-19 patients to track their oxygen levels at home using a pulse oximeter. This is a device that is used to measure the oxygen in the blood by simply clipping onto your finger and you can measure your heart rate as well as blood oxygen level reading.
The reason behind Silent Hypoxia during COVID-19
Ideally, the oxygen level in the blood depends on several factors. This level is dependent on the oxygen that you breathe and its ability to reach out to all the tiny air sacs at the end of the lungs and onto the bloodstream. When a person has COVID-19, the virus can damage air sacs, and this will get filled with fluid and other inflammatory cells that can block oxygen flow to the blood.
Some experts suggest that the reason why COVID-19 patients don’t get uncomfortable with the lack of oxygen flow could be due to the damage to the blood vessels in the lungs. Usually, when some parts of the lungs are not in good shape, the blood vessels contract to force the blood to flow to the areas that are perfect to maintain the oxygen level.
Benefits of using Pulse Oximeter at home:
- Monitoring the oxygen levels at home will help in giving a kind of reassurance as shortness of breath is a typical symptom that comes and goes during the illness.
- By checking at home, you will get to notice when your levels are dropping.
- This will help you know when to contact your doctor.
- Sometimes it is possible to get a false alarm from the oximeter.
- Apart from device malfunction, other things like wearing dark nail polish, false nails, cold hands can disrupt the reading.
- Sometimes, the reading can also change based on your current position.
Physicians and doctors have advised that it is important to monitor your COVID-19 symptoms at home. But while using a pulse oximeter you mustn’t depend on it entirely to measure your condition. Experts suggest that keeping a close eye on all symptoms like chest pain, weakness, shortness of breath, confusion; regardless of dropping oxygen levels.