Happy hypoxia: Why you may be happy when your oxygen level dips dangerously

In March 2020, a Covid-19 affected person got here to a hospital in Indonesia with a fever and cough. He was clinically effectively and was in a position to stroll, chat simply, scroll the cellular display and regarded snug. His blood strain, pulse and physique temperature have been within the regular vary. But when medical doctors checked, his oxygen level was 77 per cent. This was one of many early instances of Covid-19 the place the affected person didn’t know that the physique was ravenous of oxygen with out manifesting identified signs of the situation. The world wakened to what’s happy hypoxia in Covid-19 instances.

India has reported comparable instances no less than since July final yr. But such instances weren’t in nice numbers. Now, medical doctors treating Covid-19 sufferers say a considerable proportion of Covid-19 sufferers are having happy hypoxia.


Hypoxia refers to a situation when the oxygen level within the blood drops beneath the common mark. Oxygen saturation for a wholesome particular person stays above 94 per cent. It can be simply measured utilizing an oximeter, which is among the highest-selling medical tools right this moment.

A drop in oxygen saturation can have an effect on a variety of significant organs akin to the center, lungs, mind and kidney. Hypoxia might occur as a result of lowered capability of the lungs to soak up and switch oxygen acquired by means of respiratory to blood vessels for provide in all elements of the physique. It also can occur when blood vessels can’t flow into blood correctly within the physique as a result of some blockages.

Covid-19 primarily impacts the respiratory system together with lungs and blood vessels. What is going on in Covid-19 is that the an infection is lowering the operational capability of the lungs, and inflicting irritation within the blood vessels resulting in clotting obstructing the move of blood.

This situation baffles medical specialists because it defies the very logic of biology. In regular circumstances, the physique provides robust signs of hypoxia together with intense headache, brief breath and breathlessness.

But in happy hypoxia, which is being seen amongst Covid-19 sufferers, they proceed to perform usually until a a lot later stage.


“This is a serious condition among Covid-19 patients. In my estimate, up to 30 per cent of Covid-19 patients needing hospitalisation have had happy hypoxia,” stated Dr Rajkamal Choudhry, affiliate professor on the Department of Medicine of the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Bhagalpur in Bihar.

Dr Choudhry, who has labored with the World Health Organisation (WHO) for six years, stated, “In some cases of happy hypoxia, oxygen saturation had dropped to 20-30 per cent. This has been a major cause of deaths among Covid-19 patients in hospitals.”

Doctors treating sufferers in Delhi-NCR say happy hypoxia is being seen in youthful individuals extra within the second wave of Covid-19. Many suspect that that is contributing to larger deaths among the many youthful individuals in comparison with the primary wave of the pandemic in India.


This is the place oxygen saturation monitoring helps. Doctors advise Covid-19 sufferers to repeatedly verify their oxygen ranges utilizing an oximeter. If it drops beneath 90 per cent, fast medical oxygen is required as oxygen hunger can influence very important organs severely.

While cough, sore throat, fever and headache are frequent signs of Covid-19, another signs ought to be intently noticed for figuring out happy hypoxia. Change of the color of lips from pure tone to blue, pores and skin discolouration to crimson or purple tone or profuse sweating even when not doing arduous bodily work might be a symptom of happy hypoxia. The best choice is the usage of an oximeter.


If oxygen saturation falls beneath 94 per cent, the particular person ought to search pressing medical recommendation. Doctors advise proning for home-isolation patients as a direct treatment.

However, if the oxygen level drops beneath 90 per cent, such instances require hospitalisation as sufferers may want medical oxygen complement or ventilator help.

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