Coronavirus : All you need to know about oxygen saturation levels

With the alarming rise in the number of coronavirus cases across the country, there is a serious crisis about the scarcity of supplemental oxygen, which is given to patients when their oxygen levels come down. However, due to a lack of information on how much oxygen saturation in the blood is enough, some people have started hoarding it, while some are taking it even if they don’t really need it, resulting in unavailability for those who actually need it.

Explaining the concept of oxygen saturation, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria has said if a person’s oxygen saturation is 93 per cent to 99 per cent, then that person does not need oxygen, and taking it will instead be harmful

Emphasising on judicious use of oxygen, he said that there will be no deficiency if people came together and use it and Remdesivir only when required.

“If your oxygen saturation is 92 or 93, or 98-99, the actual oxygen in the blood is not very different. There is an oxygen dissociation curve called the sigmoid curve and after you reach saturation of 90, it is actually flat, even if you go from 92 to 98. For those individuals who are having an oxygen saturation of 92 or 94, there is no need to take high oxygen just to maintain your saturation. It is not going to be of any benefit. If your saturation is above 95, you don’t need to take oxygen. If it is less than 94, you need close monitoring but you still may not need oxygen because oxygen is still sufficient in blood if the patient is healthy,” he said.

“Important issue here is that taking oxygen intermittently, your saturation is alright, but you say let me take it for half an hour after my meals or if I take oxygen for few hours in the day, my saturation goes up. I am feeling better, and I should continue oxygen, is actually a waste of it. There is no data to show this will be of any help to you,” Guleria added.

He further said that many patients have started keeping oxygen cylinders at home and taking it for 30 min or 2 hour or 3 hours, which is more harmful and again denying people who need it.

“In some patients, who have a chronic disease, you may want to keep the oxygen saturation at the higher point. If these patients have oxygen saturation around 92-94, don’t panic, consult a doctor, you need to monitor oxygen saturation but it is not that you should start taking oxygen to maintain your saturation above 97 or 98. It is not going to be of much benefit,” he added.

He added that when a person has pneumonia or chronic lung disease when saturation falls, then oxygen is a treatment, given sometimes for a short duration, but sometimes people are on long-term oxygen therapy.

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