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Is Oxygen Saturation Important in COVID?

Professor Gostin from Georgetown University warned of a novel influenza (COVID) strain with pandemic potential would emerge in his 2014 book, Global Health Law. Humans have little immune response to a novel influenza virus, enabling it to spread rapidly and possibly cause widespread illness and death. Historically the world has experienced three or four influenza pandemics every century, equating to at least ten pandemics over the last 3 centuries (1).

The ‘Flu’ is not new, everybody knows the symptoms of a cough, runny nose and a change in breathing. In 2020 the novel Flu warned of emerged in the shape of COVID 19. Coronavirus targets alveolar epithelial cells found deep inside the human lung. Inflammation is usually present as lung tissue is damaged (fibrosis) (2). Hence government advice to look out for cough and temperature symptoms.

Dr Richard Levitan wrote in the New York Times (3) about his experiences of Covid 19 patients with respiratory distress, after 30 years of emergency medicine, his comment was; ‘he’d seen nothing like it’ (COVID).

What he learned was to measure O2 saturation. This is how well your lungs are working. When a person has COVID their O2 saturation can plummet silently (without symptoms). Meaning by the time a prudent person takes themselves to hospital their pneumonia (secondary problem from how COVID affects the alveolar cells, noted above) had been going on for days putting that person in a critical condition.

Dr Levitan found that he was able to improve treatment and outcomes by monitoring O2 saturation. Next time you are in for your Chiropractic Care I will be assessing your O2 saturation as a precautionary measure to hopefully improve the longer term outcomes of contracting COVID. I will be doing this in addition to screening you on entry.

Oxygen saturation levels are also suggested to monitor in the British Medical Journal (2) with those with poor O2 Sats can be referred onward for a chest x ray.

Oximeter

I aim to keep an eye on you for the silent aspects of COVID and secondary infections to try and reduce the risks of infection spread and the long term complications to having a respiratory illness (pneumonia and fibrosis).  All whilst helping you with your bodily aches and pains…

I understand Chiropractic and the benefits that people can experience, yet I also want to look out for those who I care for, making sure they are not suffering or going to suffer needlessly in their future. See you all soon, Lee

References

  1. Gostin LO Chapter 12: Pandemic Influenza in Global Health Law. [Harvard University Press, 2014] p.362-4
  2. Fraser E (2020) Long Term Respiratory Complications of Covid-19. BMJ 2020;370:m3001 (3rd August 2020).
  3. Levitan R. The Infection that’s Silently Killing Coronavirus Patients. New York Times https://nyti.ms/2S7SV2r Apr 20 2020.

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