Coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, is a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus. The virus is contracted through your eyes, nose or mouth, similar to a common cold. It affects your body by attacking healthy cells and multiplying throughout your body. In more serious cases it can go deep into your respiratory system.
For about 80% of those who contract the virus the symptoms and effects are mild. For the remaining 20%, the symptoms range from moderate to severe. In severe cases, the infection reaches deep into the respiratory tract, including the lungs. This can cause shortness of breath and even pneumonia. Those with underlying health conditions such as COPD, asthma, heart conditions, diabetes, kidney or liver disease might be at higher risk for severe illness.
For those experiencing pneumonia, the lungs inflame by a bacterial or viral infection. The lungs can fill with fluid, affecting the air sacs which is where oxygen passes into your blood vessels. If the transfer of oxygen is hindered enough your oxygen saturation level can fall. Oxygen therapy from an oxygen concentrator is one of the ways this is treated. Using supplemental oxygen will raise your blood oxygen level.
You can check your oxygen saturation level by using a fingertip pulse oximeter. A normal blood oxygen saturation level is 96% to 99%. Oxygen saturation below 90% is considered low. If it falls below 80% organ function is compromised. The use of supplemental oxygen can save your life as it is one of the most effective ways to raise your oxygen saturation level.
If you believe you’re in need of supplemental oxygen and are unable to visit your doctor, you may be relieved to learn that current federal guidelines allow for doctor approval of respiratory equipment without a face-to-face meeting. We recommend that you call your doctor and discuss your respiratory concerns.
If your doctor approves supplemental oxygen, you have three choices:
- Emergency Oxygen Tank that you will need to get refilled.
- Home Oxygen Concentrator that generates its own oxygen but only can help you while you’re at home.
- Portable Oxygen Concentrator that will keep you active and maintain your oxygen levels above 90%.
Please get advice from your doctor to determine what would work best for you. You can find more information and education from the nonprofit organization COPDBreathestrong.org