Out of all the COVID-19 symptoms to date, the lack of oxygen is easily one the most alarming ones. People losing their lives owing to the current shortage of oxygen in the country is proof enough. At the moment, there are so many who are literally gasping for oxygen and struggling to breathe. However, there are also those who aren’t even realising it as their oxygen falls down to a dangerous, life-threatening level. The condition has been termed as “happy hypoxia” by medical experts around the world and it has been a major concern in COVID-19 patients. That’s exactly why healthcare experts have been constantly asking us to keep a check on oxygen so that we don’t miss out on the falling SpO2 levels and can get expert assistance ASAP. We recently reached out to Dr. Bipin Jibhkate, Consultant Critical Care Medicine & ICU Director, Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai, to find out all about the condition and how to keep it in check. Scroll down to go through the details.
As Dr. Jibhkate explains, “Happy Hypoxia is a silent hypoxia wherein oxygen levels in one’s body is low and tends to damage the vital organs like brain, heart or kidneys if not detected and treated at the right time.” Thus basically, happy hypoxia refers to low levels of oxygen in the body (less than 90%) that go undetected if not monitored.
The condition is called “happy hypoxia” because the patient does not show any symptoms or discomfort. There is no breathlessness or gasping for breath, and the patient can in fact feel absolutely healthy while experiencing happy hypoxia. “In the initial stage, the patient is happy, alright, and talking. But, later they require immediate medical attention,” Dr. Jibhkate adds.
Blood clotting in the lungs can lead to happy hypoxia. Dr. Jibhkate adds, “An inflammatory reaction in one’s body that is caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection at the onset of COVID -19 can be the reason behind this. This can also lead to cellular protein reactions that form blood clots and prevent the cells and tissues in the lungs from getting enough oxygen.”
According to Dr. Jibhkate, happy hypoxia is mostly seen in youngsters and old people. Rapid breathing, chest tightness, light breathlessness, and profuse sweating are some of the symptoms that indicate one is suffering from this condition.
Also, remember that asymptomatic patients can also experience this condition. The symptoms can be lips turning blue, discoloration of the skin wherein it turns purple in colour. Check the oxygen levels the instant you detect these symptoms and reach out for professional medical help.
It is the need of the hour for COVID-19 patients to monitor their oxygen saturation levels at least twice a day to ensure they do not get into happy hypoxia. If your oxygen levels are less than 90% then you will have to seek a medical expert's help and undergo appropriate treatment.
“Check your oxygen levels with the help of a good pulse oximeter. Stay in touch with your doctor and report any abnormal changes occurring in the body. Seeking timely treatment is life-saving for the patient,” suggests Dr. Jibhkate.
If you have breathing problems after getting infected with coronavirus then you should take the necessary precautions to avoid further complications. Also, you can speak to your doctor regarding the prevention of hypoxia.
Lastly, remember that not every COVID-19 infection is the same. It is important that you follow the instructions given by your doctor while quarantining at home.
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