Get Ahead of COVID-19 Pneumonia
Time to Take Action

Respirologists 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 saturation can be life saving. It can serve as an early warning signal that you may be developing viral pneumonia.

 While tools such as a CIRUL ring, do not replace an actual COVID-19 test, it can serve as another alert for the detection of a COVID-19 infection. The CIRCUL ring can help to identify more patients who have pneumonia sooner and alert you to seek medical attention.

All patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus should have pulse oximetry monitoring for two weeks, the period during which COVID-19 pneumonia typically develops.

All persons with cough, fatigue and fevers should also have pulse oximeter monitoring even if they have not had virus testing, or even if their swab test was negative, because those tests are not 100% accurate.

Oximetry for Early COVID-19 Detection

Widespread pulse oxygen screening can be an early warning system for breathing problems associated with COVID-19 pneumonia.

A pulse oximeter which measures blood oxygen level can provide early warning of the kinds of breathing problems associated with COVID-19 pneumonia. Many assume that this type of device is only available in hospitals.

Thanks to the Internet of Things – the CIRCUL ring is now being widely used for monitoring of a dangerous effect of low oxygen due to respiratory distress.

Richard Levitan, an emergency physician in Littleton, New Hampshire commented in the New York Times, “It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I realized that we are not detecting the deadly pneumonia the virus causes early enough and that we could be doing more to keep patients off ventilators — and alive.”

Many patients do not report any sensation of breathing problems, even though their chest X-rays showed diffuse pneumonia and their oxygen was below normal. Respirologists now recognize that Covid pneumonia initially causes a form of oxygen deprivation we call “silent hypoxia” — “silent” because of its insidious, hard-to-detect nature.

Dr. Steve Friedman
Doctor of Internal Medicine and Doctor of Psychiatry

COVID-19 Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an infection where lung air sacs are filled with fluid or pus causing them to collapse and oxygen levels drop. Patients can develop chest pain and significant breathing problems.

When COVID-19 pneumonia first strikes, patients do not necessarily feel short of breath, even as their oxygen levels fall. And by the time they do, they have alarmingly low oxygen levels and moderate-to-severe pneumonia as seen on chest X-rays.

COVID-19 patients can be sick for a week or so with fever, cough, upset stomach and fatigue, but often only go to the ER when they become short of breath. Often by then, their pneumonia has been going on for days, but by the time they were often already in critical condition.


Normal oxygen saturation for most people is 95 to 100 percent; COVID-19 pneumonia patients can experience oxygen saturations as low as 50 percent.

Dr. Chris Landon
Director of Pediatrics at Ventura County Medical Center

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