New coronavirus complication leaves doctors perplexed

INDIANAPOLIS (WISHTV) – A new COVID-19 complication is leaving doctors scratching their heads: The condition is called “silent hypoxia.”

Hypoxia happens when the body doesn’t get the oxygen supply it needs to function. The tissues, muscles and internal organs need oxygen to sustain life. Typically, when a person experiences hypoxia, there are noticeable signs. He or she is out of breath, feels light-headed and — in severe cases — becomes unconscious. With “silent hypoxia,” there are no signs. Essentially, a COVID-19 patient may be deprived of oxygen and not even know it.

Doctors are seeing patients come in with mild symptoms like chest pain or a bit of fatigue. But other than that, they seem to be functioning just fine. However, when the patients’ oxygen levels are tested, they are dangerously low. A person should have an oxygen level between 95 and 100%. Anything under 90% is a sign something’s off. These COVID-19 patients are presenting levels as low as 50%.

What’s most concerning is, by the time these people suspect something is wrong and seek treatment, the damage to the lungs — and possibly other organs — is already done.