Health Editor’s Note: For many patients with COVID-19 pneumonia, the first day they have the shortness of breath that has brought them to the ER, they are already severely ill. COVID-19 pneumonia patients do not act like typical pneumonia patients.
Patients with COVID-19 pneumonia which produces very low levels of oxygen in the blood, are alert, presenting with limited levels of distress, and talking on their phones. A typical non-Covid-19 pneumonia patient, will be confused, gasping for breath, and perhaps even unconscious.
A COVID-19 pneumonia patient will be alert but have horrible xrays and very low oxygen levels in the blood. A surprise so to speak when much of initial diagnosis is observation of how the patient is feeling and responding to his or her illness. Although the COVID-19 patient will not be receiving much oxygen, due to the pneumonia, the lungs will have enough function to get rid of the carbon dioxide. Higher levels of carbon dioxide give a person the shortness of breath symptom of lung involvement. Near normal levels of carbon dioxide in the blood will eliminate the telling “shortness of breath” symptom.
We are faced with normal/usual medial observations being of little use in treating a COVID-19 pneumonia patient. Increasingly we hear that this is like a disease no one has ever seen before. By the time a patient is having trouble breathing and makes it to the ER, their lungs are so damaged that they must go quickly onto a ventilator. Unfortunately medicine is behind the eight ball on this one…Carol
The Infection That’s Silently Killing Coronavirus Patients
by Dr. Richard Levitan, ER doctor/New York Times
Even patients without respiratory complaints had Covid pneumonia. The patient stabbed in the shoulder, whom we X-rayed because we worried he had a collapsed lung, actually had Covid pneumonia. In patients on whom we did CT scans because they were injured in falls, we coincidentally found Covid pneumonia. Elderly patients who had passed out for unknown reasons and a number of diabetic patients were found to have it.
We are just beginning to recognize that Covid pneumonia initially causes a form of oxygen deprivation we call “silent hypoxia” — “silent” because of its insidious, hard-to-detect nature. Read Full Article