I read this article this morning. It contains a lot of valuable insight on what ER doctors are seeing in Covid-19 patients. But I thought it was missing a few important points that you might look for at home.
Here’s what I wrote on Facebook with the attached article:
Reading this article from The NY Times might save your life.
It doesn’t tell you everything you should know.
At the end of the article, the author suggests buying a pulse oximeter (shown in the photo), but not everyone will be able to find one or afford one. As the mother of a cardiac patient who has had numerous pneumonias and RSV, I can tell you what I look for, and what triggers our trip to the ER where, 90% of the time his x-rays show that he needs to be admitted.
As the article states, Covid-19 patients tend to have low oxygen levels by the time the shortness of breath starts. Here are the ways you might be able to detect the otherwise invisible symptoms the article describes. Unless you have an underlying condition that lowers your oxygen levels every day of your life, these might help. Note: I AM NOT A DOCTOR OR A NURSE.
Blue lips, fingernail beds, and duskiness around the eyes: Are you healthy now? Look at yourself in the mirror. Check the colour of your lips and your face in general. Look at your fingernails. All the colour they should be (pink lips and fingernails if you’re Caucasian)? This is your baseline. If your oxygen levels drop, some or all of these will change. Your skin may take on a dull, shadowy tone, like dusk as the sun goes down. It does not mean panic and run to the hospital! But if it persists and you have other known symptoms of a cold, you might want to call your doctor or health unit.
Indrawing (subcostal retractions): When we can’t get enough breath into our lungs, we breath faster and deeper. As the article suggests, people aren’t detecting that they’re doing it. Indrawing is when the belly pulls in beneath the rib cage. It’s easier to detect in children, so keep an eye on your kids, too. Again, if there are any other symptoms and if it persists, especially when at rest, contact your doctor or health unit.
Tracheal tug (suprasternal retractions): Much like indrawing, this happens when we’re not getting enough air into our lungs. It affects the area just above the collar bone. As WebMD describes it, it’s “When the skin in the middle of your neck sucks in” when you breathe. My son, being a heart patient, has this all the time when he exercises. I only worry about it when: he’s not stuffed up with allergies; he’s not exercising in any capacity; AND when he’s his normal energetic self.
If any of the above are present combined with unusual fatigue or signs of a cold, I contact a doctor. I believe these are things we should all look for, after reading the article.
Again: I AM NOT A DOCTOR OR A NURSE. I’m just a mom who has nineteen and a half years of experience watching my son for signs of pneumonia every time he’s sick.
I’m only sharing these symptoms that I look for in my son because COMBINED WITH OTHER SYMPTOMS, and according to the attached article, they may help you detect Covid-19 IF YOU CAN’T GET YOUR HANDS ON A PULSE OXIMETER. If you can, rely on that.
Note also that this is not an exhaustive list of what to look for, but it might help you to detect what your body isn’t readily telling you.