Happy Hypoxia-an unusual baffling phenomena seen in some COVID-19 patients!

The frontline warriors of this coronavirus pandemic are noting some very unusual observations when they are managing COVID-19 patients. Some of the findings are so strange that it has baffled the medical fraternity. It has left them scratching their head for answers. They are now questioning the basics of anatomy and physiology which they had learned and used in the past. One of this is the phenomenon of Happy Hypoxia. What is this condition?

Happy Hypoxia-an unusual observation in COVID-19

COVID-19 continues to baffle doctors and scientists. It is highly contagious and deadly. Additionally, it is highly mysterious. Some of its effect on human body is unexplained. Because it leads to conditions and situations which doctors are finding it hard to understand and explain based on what they have learned and seen until now. Happy Hypoxia or Silent Hypoxia is one such condition which doctors see in the patients of coronavirus.

Happy Hypoxia [Source: Live Science]
Doctors and nurses have noticed that some patients ill with the virus are not in distress and can talk properly. And yet their blood oxygen levels are extremely low. Such low oxygen levels would in other circumstances have caused unconsciousness in the subject or even proved fatal for them.

Lung damage but what type?

Doctors do know that coronavirus leads to lung involvement and damage. But what of damage is this that is so unique that despite the extreme hypoxia, patients are still able to talk and sit up. How come they are not in distress with such low levels of oxygen in their blood?

Doctors are trying to find out the exact pathogenesis and patho-physiology of this unique effect. This would assist them to manage their cases more effectively. The normal blood oxygen saturation is 95% and above. But now doctors are seeing in A and E levels in COVID-19 patients as low as in 80s and 70s.

COVID-19 affects the lungs [Source: First Post]
Some even are down to 50s. But still these cases do not collapse. In fact they come to the emergency walking and are talking and in no apparent distress. Such low levels are otherwise considered lethal.

Click to read more on COVID-19: What are the options against the virus besides the development of a vaccine?

Expert doctors and their opinion!

Dr Jonathan Bannard-Smith, a consultant in critical care and anaesthesia at Manchester Royal Infirmary states:

“It’s intriguing to see so many people coming in, quite how hypoxic they are,”

“We’re seeing oxygen saturations that are very low and they’re unaware of that. We wouldn’t usually see this phenomenon in influenza or community-acquired pneumonia. It’s very much more profound and an example of very abnormal physiology going on before our eyes.”

Happy Hypoxia is unexplained and baffling [Source: Getty Images]
Dr Mike Charlesworth, an anaesthetist at Wythenshawe hospital in Manchester is equally confused. Why are these patients with severe hypoxia not showing any visible signs of it? Their ultimate outcomes are poor but what makes them acclimatized to such low levels of oxygen? There are no answers to this unusual findings!