What is it about?

This article explores the phenomenon of 'happy hypoxia' in COVID-19 and the possible mechanisms involved. A concise description of breathlessness, hypoxia and hypoxaemia is provided as well as the principles underpinning pulse oximetry. The limitation of pulse oximetry is also discussed.

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Why is it important?

Although 'happy hypoxia' has gained extensive media coverage, its aetiology remains unclear. A pathophysiological explanation could be that there is a dissociation between hypoxaemia and the sensation of breathlessness. Recent literature has questioned the accuracy of pulse oximetry in COVID-19. Inaccuracies in readings, which arise for several reasons, could in part explain 'happy hypoxia'

Perspectives

The aim of this article is to create a discussion about the possible aetiology of happy hypoxia.

Noamaan Wilson-Baig
Lancaster University

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This page is a summary of: Happy hypoxia in COVID-19: pathophysiology and pulse oximetry accuracy, Journal of Paramedic Practice, July 2021, Mark Allen Group, DOI: 10.12968/jpar.2021.13.7.288.
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