Happy Hypoxia | Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur
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Happy Hypoxia


The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic holds many mysteries. Among those mysteries is the frequency of silent hypoxemia, or happy hypoxia, as it has been dubbed in the media.

Hypoxemia is defined as “a decrease in the partial pressure of oxygen in the blood.” As blood oxygen levels begin to reduce, a person may experience shortness of breath, also called dyspnea. If blood oxygen levels continue to fall, the organs may shut down, and the issue becomes life threatening.

COVID-19 is primarily a respiratory illness, and a severe case can reduce the amount of oxygen that the lungs can absorb. Blood oxygen levels have been found to be very low in some COVID-19 patients.

Therefore, it is imperative to be vigilant with the emergence of happy hypoxia among COVID-19 patients which can be a silent killer.

In this article, Dr. P Srinivas, our resident consultant Chest Physician/Physician shares his insights and expertise on ‘Happy Hypoxia’.


1. There Are Fake Pulse Oximeters In The Market. How Do We Verify Its Authenticity?

With the increase in the number of COVID positive cases requiring home quarantine, there is an increase awareness of proper home monitoring, include an increasing demand of pulse oximeter.

As consumers, we must be smart to avoid buying fake oximeter. We can check the authenticity of the device with Malaysia Medical Device Register, which is available online.


2. How To Use A Pulse Oximeter Correctly?

  • Step 1: Remove any nail polish. Once the nail is clean, keep hands warm
  • Step 2: Stay quiet for at least 5 minutes
  • Step 3: Place pulse oximeter on your finger
  • Step 4: Wait until pulse oximeter reading is stable, then record the reading


3. How Frequent Should You Take Pulse Oximeter Readings?

It is advised to monitor health status with pulse oximeter at least 3 times a day.


4. Symptoms of Happy Hypoxia.

  • Happy hypoxias occur when oxygen concentration in the body drops to 95% or below. In normal conditions, if anyone has low body oxygen concentration, they will develop:

- Increase in breathing rate of up to 40-50 breath per minute

- Patient slowly develops difficulty in breathing and air hunger

- Patient become anxious and sweating occurs

However, in happy hypoxia, patients will remain calm, they will not exhibit these symptoms, thus it is difficult detect if they have problems. This condition may prove lethal if it is not detected early. There are a few ways to detect happy hypoxia – with a pulse oximeter, with a smart watch that can detect oxygen and pulse rate, or even with smart phones which have similar functions.


5. What Kind Of Exercise Would Be Recommended For COVID-19 Patients?

As we know, COVID-19 attacks the lungs, causing breathing problems. Breathing exercises are very important for COVID-19 patients. Breathing exercises will help to fasten recovery and increase lung capacity, leading to an improved quality of life.


6. Dos and Don’ts For COVID-19 Patient’s Diet Plan

Patients are advised to consume a balanced diet, which include portions of carbohydrates, proteins, as well as fresh vegetables and fruits.

Fresh vegetables and fruits provide Vitamin C, A, and D. Patients are advised to consume plenty of clear fluids (2-3L per day). Moreover, partially cooked meat, canned fast food, and high sugar drinks should be avoided.

Finally, patients are advised to stop smoking or vaping to aid recovery.

Respiratory Medicine

Our Specialists

Dr. P. Srinivas
Internal Medicine
Respiratory Medicine - Pulmonology
Dr. Ong Choo Khoon
Internal Medicine
Respiratory Medicine - Pulmonology
Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur
Ambulance / Emergency
+603 4141 3018
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