TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - A pulmonologist at Persahabatan Hospital, Erlina Burhan, warned Covid-19 patients to be aware of symptoms of happy hypoxia, or silent hypoxemia, which is a decrease in oxygen level without breathing difficulties or dyspnea.
“If hypoxia occurs for a long time, patients’ consciousness will decrease, its consequences will be fatal,” said Erlina in a discussion on the BNPB Youtube account on Wednesday, September 16, 2020.
She explained that people normally experience shortness of breath when they lack oxygen. However, several Covid-19 patients did not experience it due to damaged nerves. "So the brain cannot recognize the occurrence of lack of oxygen in the blood."
The symptoms, Erlina added, include persistent cough, fever, and exhaustion. When the color of the lips or the fingertips has turned to blue, they indicate that oxygen saturation has decreased.
"[When that happens], rush to the hospital. Do not wait until they turn blue if you already have a cough and are exhausted. Check [oxygen saturation] by using pulse oximetry. If there is none, go straight to a hospital," the pulmonologist underlined.
Erlina said the only medicine to treat happy hypoxia is oxygen. When Covid-19 patients’ oxygen saturation is about 60-70 percent, they require intubation and ventilation.