Why Everyone Should Learn More about Silent Hypoxia

COVID-19 has shown us how our health and oxygen levels are interconnected. During the first few months of 2020, as the pandemic was taking over the entire world, doctors started noticing a worrying condition in patients whose chest X-rays showed diffuse pneumonia: their blood oxygen saturation levels were extremely low, indicating they were not getting enough oxygen to their lungs, however, they were not showing any signs of breathlessness. This state is called silent hypoxia, and it can irreparably damage vital organs if gone undetected for too long.

Hypoxia is a condition in which the supply of oxygen is insufficient for normal life functions. Usually, when someone is hypoxic (meaning they need oxygen), they show symptoms such as shortness of breath, fast breathing, and high heart rate among others.

Coronavirus patients who develop silent hypoxia, however, do not experience these symptoms, even as their oxygen levels fall. By the time they start showing distress and present to the hospital, patients reach alarmingly low oxygen levels and moderate-to-severe pneumonia, requiring supplemental oxygen, and in severe cases intubation.  

Researchers are only just beginning to understand why the virus causes this variation of hypoxia and more studies are required within a larger group of individuals to find out why exactly the virus causes this condition. Meanwhile, silent hypoxia has presented our society with another life-threatening challenge, so how do we move forward and upward from here?

Multiple publications are showing that COVID-19 patients use pulse oximetry at home to spot deterioration. Detection of silent hypoxia, early treatment and close monitoring could be lifesaving. Patients with COVID-19 who don’t need immediate hospital attention but are at high risk of developing serious symptoms are to be given pulse oximeters to use at home to reduce the risk of serious deterioration (1).

Another journal highlights the use of smartphone pulse oximetry for early detection of silent hypoxia in COVID-19 Pneumonia (2). Importantly, widespread remote monitoring of blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) of patients with confirmed or possible COVID-19 could provide an early warning system for the kinds of lung issues associated with the disease.

During this critical time as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to jeopardize even more lives, we want to keep you and your loved ones safe because your health is our number one priority. Though our products cannot detect COVID-19, Aulisa Guardian Angel® monitoring systems can help you monitor for signs and symptoms associated with the virus. Our non-invasive solution is the only FDA Cleared wireless monitoring and alarm system approved for adults, children and infants for in-home use, providing continuous measurements of the vital signs (oxygen saturation levels, temperature and heart rate).

If you’re looking to use your smartphone to monitor vital signs, our FDA-Cleared technology is available with our newly launched Aulisa GA1000 Lite. The real-time vitals are visible on your smartphone, within the Aulisa Lite App. The app requires no subscription fee and can be downloaded from the App and Google stores.

Aulisa Guardian Angel®® GA1000 Lite

In conclusion, it is important to state that silent hypoxia is not an early symptom that occurs in COVID-19 patients, therefore monitoring blood oxygen levels should not be a form of self-detection for the virus. Decreased oxygen saturation levels could be a sign of COVID-19, but it can also be a sign of other health issues that must be discussed with a medical professional.

Please reach out to your healthcare professional for personalized, medical advice as this article is meant for educational and promotional purposes.

  1. https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4151
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10916-020-01587-
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