COVID-19 Pneumonia: The real Cause of Coronavirus deaths
Like the rest of you I am always watching the hyped –up news with its emphasis on this pandemic; the purpose of which is much less to inform and more to sell product during their commercials.
Fortunately, I have many clients who are emergency workers, nurses and physicians in our local hospitals here in Hamilton so I am able to hear the other side of the story, The real facts about how serious this pandemic is, who the victims are and what is actually causing their death.
They are seeing patients without respiratory complaints that have Covid-19 pneumonia. Patients coming into the ER with knife wounds and gunshot injuries are all being tested for Coved-19. Many people with fractures, Type 2 diabetes and unrelated illnesses are showing collapsed lungs and severe cases of Covid-19 pneumonia. (It should be added that the majority of patients that do test positive for Coved-19 experience relatively mild symptoms and get over the illness in a week or two without treatment.)
What really surprised many of these nurses and physicians was that most patients did not report any sensation of breathing problems, even though their chest X-rays showed diffuse pneumonia and their oxygen was below normal. How could that be possible?
We are just beginning to learn that Covid pneumonia initially appears to cause a form of oxygen deprivation known as “silent hypoxia”—“silent” because of its insidious, hard-to-detect nature.
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs in which air sacs fill with fluid or pus. Normally, patients develop chest discomfort, pain with breathing and other breathing problems. But when Covid pneumonia first strikes, you don’t feel short of breath, even as your oxygen levels drop. And by the time they do, you have alarmingly low oxygen levels and moderate-to-severe pneumonia which is visible on an X-ray. Normal oxygen saturation for most persons at sea level is 94 to 100 per cent; Covid pneumonia patients usually have oxygen saturations as low as 50 per cent.
ER workers tell me that most of the patients they saw had been sick for a week or so with fever, cough, upset stomach and fatigue, but they only came to the hospital when they were short of breath. The pneumonia had clearly been going on for days, but by the time they felt they had to go to the hospital they were already in critical condition.
In most cases patients requiring emergency intubation are in shock, have altered mental status and are fighting hard just to breathe. Patients requiring intubation because of acute hypoxia are often unconscious or using every muscle they can to take a breath. They are in extreme distress. Covid pneumonia cases are different.
According to the ER physicians, Covid pneumonia patients have remarkably low oxygen saturations when they arrive—acting very normal and even using their cell phones as they were put on monitors. Although breathing fast, they had relatively minimal distress, despite dangerously low oxygen level and terrible pneumonia on chest X-rays.
ER nurses and physicians are now just learning how this happens. The coronavirus attacks lung cells that make surfactant. This substance helps the air sacs in the lungs stay open between breaths and is critical to normal lung function. As the inflammation from Covid-19 pneumonia starts, it causes the air sacs to collapse and oxygen levels fall. Yet the lungs initially remain “compliant,” not yet stiff or heavy with fluid. This means that you can still expel carbon dioxide—and without a buildup of carbon dioxide, you will not feel short of breath.
If this happens to you, you will compensate for the low oxygen level in your blood by breathing faster and deeper—and this happens without you realizing it. This silent hypoxia, and your own psychological response to it, causes even more inflammation and more air sacs to collapse, and the pneumonia worsens until oxygen levels plummet. In effect, you are actually injuring your own lungs by breathing harder and harder. Twenty percent of Covid pneumonia patients will then go on to a second and deadlier phase of lung damage. Fluid builds up and the lungs become stiff, carbon dioxide rises and patients develop acute respiratory failure.
By the time patients have noticeable trouble breathing and show up at the hospital with dangerously low oxygen levels, many will ultimately require a ventilator. And once on a ventilator, many will die.
Right now there is such an emphasis on testing for Coved-19 virus which in my opinion is ridiculous. You could test negative 4 weeks in a row and then test positive. It takes 2 to 4 days to get back a test and by then it could be too late.
On the other hand, doctors should act like doctors and treat whatever they are confronted with. If a patient cannot breathe and their lungs are full, do we want to wait for a test? It could be another form of pneumonia; it could be a serious bacterial infection. Treat the patient immediately without waiting for the result of a test with only 70 per cent accuracy and used only for statistical purposes.
However, there is a way we could identify more people who have Covid pneumonia sooner and treat them more effectively—and it would not require waiting for a coronavirus test in the hospital or doctor’s office. It requires detecting silent hypoxia early through a common medical device that can be purchased without a prescription: a pulse oximeter.
These small devices turn on with one button and are placed on a fingertip. In a few seconds two numbers appear: oxygen saturation and pulse rate.
Widespread pulse oximetry screening for Coved pneumonia—whether people check themselves on home devices or do to clinics or doctors’ offices ( we have one in our store) could provide an early warning system for the kinds of breathing problems associated with Covid pneumonia.
If you had this device in your home, it would give you much greater insight as to whether you have Coved-19 or pneumonia and whether you should go to the ER. It would reduce many unnecessary visits. It could also detect other lung problems unrelated to Coved -19. I should add that if you are a smoker and you just finished a cigarette your oxygen level will drop to about 70 but will recover in about 5 minutes so always do a second test to confirm. The same thing will happen if you vape.
In my opinion, all patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus should have pulse oximeter monitoring for two weeks, the period which Covid pneumonia typically develops. All persons with cough, fatigue and fevers should also have pulse oximeter monitoring, or even if their test was negative, because these tests are only about 70 per cent accurate. A vast majority of Canadians who have been exposed to the virus don’ even know it.
Oximeters are not 100 per cent accurate and they are not the answer to this pandemic. There will be deaths and bad outcomes that are not preventable. But right now, many emergency rooms are being crushed by this one disease or waiting for it to hit. We must direct our resources to identifying and treating the initial phase of Covid pneumonia earlier by screening for silent hypoxia.
A reading of 95 to 100 is normal. And, you can do this as often as you like if you purchase one. However, if you are experiencing minor symptoms but your reading drops to below 80 then you must get to a doctor or ER as soon as possible.
With this device we can take charge of our own health and get ahead of this virus instead of living in fear. [print_link]