What is Happy Hypoxia and how it is ‘fatal’ in COVID-19 patients? – Explainer of the Day


Various mysterious forms of fatal diseases in patients with COVID-19 have been coming to light during the second wave of COVID-19. Doctors are alarmed with an increasing number of youngsters being admitted to hospitals with ‘Happy Hypoxia’ which is being deemed as a ‘silent’ killer in COVID-19 patients.

What is Happy Hypoxia?

•Medical experts explain Happy Hypoxia as a medical condition in which patients suffering from COVID-19 with extremely low blood-oxygen levels are not exhibiting any symptom of a shortage of oxygen.

•These people grouped as ‘Happy Hypoxics’ by the doctors are experiencing a drop in oxygen levels, failure of organs internally but still, show no external symptoms. Most of them are normally sitting, conversing, and using phones.

•COVID-19 patients, especially youngsters, with happy hypoxia may not exhibit symptoms of breathlessness till a much later stage of the infection and crash suddenly.

•Generally, a patient infected with COVID-19 shows oxygen saturation levels declining up to 40 percent, in some cases even lower. The healthy oxygen saturation level is above 95 per cent.

How is Happy Hypoxia identified?

•Medical experts highly advise monitoring blood oxygen levels with a pulse oximeter even if a COVID-19 patient is not exhibiting breathlessness but only fever, cough, sore throat, etc.

•Medical experts say that in addition to regular COVID-19 symptoms, patients with happy hypoxia will exhibit skin discolouration to purple or red, change in lip colour to pale or blue tone, and heavy sweating even when not doing any physical activity.

How Happy Hypoxia happens: Explained

•Medical experts have noted that unlike patients with acute breathlessness, some COVID-19 patients experience lung issues that are not evident immediately or acutely.

•The immune system of Happy Hypoxics focuses on fighting against the drop in oxygen by speeding up the breathing level while warding off fever, etc.

•Happy Hypoxics with COVID-19 remain unaware of their dropping levels of oxygen internally. Hence, they do see the need to seek medical help in the initial stages of infection. The process is being described as how a person’s body adjusts to low levels of oxygen at higher altitudes.

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