When does a Covid-19 patient need oxygen support?
- A small proportion of Covid-19 patients need oxygen support, when shortness of breath progresses to a more acute condition.
- Most patients with Covid-19 have a respiratory tract infection, and in the most severe cases their symptoms can include shortness of breath.
- In a small proportion of such cases, this can progress to a more severe and systemic disease characterised by Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).
How does Covid-19 trigger shortness of breath?
- -SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus can infect epithelial cells which protect the airway tract from pathogens and infections.
- To fight such infection, the body’s immune system releases cells that trigger inflammation.
- When this inflammatory immune response continues, it impedes the regular transfer of oxygen in the lungs.
- Simultaneously, fluids too build up. Both these factors combined make it difficult to breathe.
- Low levels of oxygen triggered by Covid-19 are inflammatory markers, which include elevated white blood cell counts and neutrophil counts.