Five FAQs - Use of oxygen during COVID-19

What is the role of oxygen during COVID-19 disease? 

The requirement of medical oxygen is enhanced during COVID-19, as the disease primarily infects the lungs and in severe cases, causes death due to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) and pneumonia.

What should be the normal oxygen saturation as recorded by a Pulse Oximeter? 

Normal level of oxygen is usually 95% or higher. In Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or sleep apnea, it is around 90%. If your home 'SpO2' (percentage of oxygen in blood) reading is lower than 95%, call your healthcare provider. 

How do I check my oxygen level at home without a Pulse Oximeter? 

Signs of low oxygen level are rapid heart rate and fast breathing rate. Under conditions of low oxygen, your body responds by increasing your heart rate (normal: 60-100 beats) and speeding up your breathing rate (normal: 12-20 breaths). Another sign is cyanosis, or a bluish colour change on your lips, nose, or fingertips. Seek medical help in case of bluish discolouration.

When does a patient require medical oxygen in a COVID-19 positive case? 

Moderate and Severe cases of COVID-19 where the infection induces shortage of oxygen in the body due to its impact on lungs require medical oxygen and immediate oxygen therapy. Oxygen acts as a lifesaver for COVID-19 patients.

When does a patient require Mechanical Ventilator Support? 

During respiratory failure i.e. difficulty in breathing or not getting enough oxygen into the blood. The ventilator controls how often it pushes air in and out of your lungs. You may be fitted with a mask to get air from the ventilator, or a breathing tube if your breathing problem is more serious.

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