Some COVID-19 patients have low oxygen, but don't struggle to breathe
Dr Norman Swan
One of the mysteries of COVID-19, and it’s changed the way people with moderate to severe disease have been treated, is that people walk into the emergency department or the ICU and their oxygen levels are so low that in the beginning the staff in a sense panicked and said they’ve got to go straight onto a ventilator, we’ve got to intubate you, put you on a ventilator so we can maintain your oxygen levels.
But when they stepped back from it a bit, some people with very low oxygen levels were sitting up quite happily, and looking quite good, and the low oxygen level was a complete surprise. So, what they’ve done now is sit back and just watch these people to see how they go, because in fact some of them do quite well with only mild oxygen support and don’t need to go onto ventilation.
Why it happens? Yet one of those mysteries in COVID-19 still to be elucidated.
Last Reviewed: 08/07/2020