Research shows that respirologists globally have noticed many patients with COVID-19 experience silent hypoxia (low blood oxygen level) days before they seek medical attention because of shortness of breath.
A pulse oximeter which measures blood oxygen level can provide early warning of the kinds of breathing problems associated with COVID-19 pneumonia.
What is Silent Hypoxia?
A silent hypoxia is a normal hypoxia at the end of the day. In hypoxia, oxygen saturation in the body is insufficient. Oxygen, however, is vital for the energy production in the cells, the so-called cell respiration – without sufficient oxygen supply, the cells are damaged. The different tissues in the body are different sensitive to hypoxia. The brain is particularly sensitive – an acute lack of oxygen causes brain cells to die after just a few minutes and then quickly leads to irreparable brain damage.
Normally, hypoxia is noticeable quite quickly. The skin can turn bluish (cyanosis), but also headaches, palpitations, shortness of breath and dizziness are signs of oxygen undersupply.
Unfortunately, this is not the case with so-called silent hypoxia. Although the oxygen saturation of those affected drops sharply, they do not experience any of the symptoms mentioned.
How can I detect hypoxia at an early stage?
We all know that too little sleep affecting concentration and performance. But, studies from Universities of Harvard, Pennsylvania and Philadelphia are now showing that six hours of sleep is actually worse than no sleep at all.
In the study, the sleep behavior of 48 adults was monitored over two weeks. During the study, the participants slept four, six, or eight hours.
The result of the study: People who only sleep six hours a night did just as badly on the test questions after ten days as people who had not slept for two nights.
People with no sleep at all or with only four hours of sleep had obvious signs of increased sleep deficit and reported this to the researchers. The six hours sleeper did not feel particularly overtired or less concentrated. But, when it came to test questions, they did just as badly after 10 days.
So the problem is that at six hours, we can hardly differentiate whether we have slept enough or poorly. That said, in the long term, it can be dangerous because there is a risk of serious complications from an undetected sleep deficit. Cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure is one of many examples.