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COVID-19 Variants What You Need to Know

COVID-19 Variants: What You Need to Know

The virus that causes COVID-19, like all viruses, is constantly changing.  When there have been several significant mutations to the virus then it’s called a variant. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants persist.

Variants are expected. The best way to slow the emergence of new variants is to reduce the spread of infection by taking measures to protect yourself including getting a COVID-19 vaccine when available. Vaccines keep you from getting sick, being hospitalized, or dying from COVID-19. 

Why does the coronavirus change?

It is normal for viruses to change, but it is still something scientists follow closely because there can be important implications.  Variants of viruses occur when there is a change or mutation to the virus’s genes. Mutations in viruses including the coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic are neither new nor unexpected. 

Most changes have little to no impact on the virus’ properties. However, depending on where the changes are located in the virus’s genetic material, they may affect the virus’s properties, such as transmission (for example, it may spread more easily) or severity (for example, it may cause more severe disease).

The more viruses circulate, the more they may change. These changes can occasionally result in a virus variant that is better adapted to its environment compared to the original virus. This process of changing and selection of successful variants is called “virus evolution.” 

As long as the coronavirus spreads through the population, mutations will continue to happen.

How are the new coronavirus variants different?

Scientists monitor all variants but may classify certain ones as variants of interest, concern, or high consequence based on how easily they spread, how severe their symptoms are, and how they are treated.

Some variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on healthcare resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths.

The mutations in the alpha version and some other variants seem to affect the coronavirus’s spike protein, which covers the outer coating of SARS-CoV-2 and gives the virus its characteristic spiny appearance. These proteins help the virus attach to human cells in the nose, lungs, and other areas of the body. This appears to make some of these new strains ‘stickier’ due to changes in the spike protein. Studies are underway to understand more about whether any of the variants are more easily transmitted.

A variant has one or more mutations that differentiate it from other variants in circulation. As expected, multiple variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been documented globally throughout this pandemic. More infectious variants such as beta, which first appeared in South Africa, may have increased ability to re-infect people who have recovered from earlier versions of the coronavirus, and also be somewhat resistant to some of the coronavirus vaccines in development. 

The delta coronavirus is considered a “variant of concern” because it appears to be more easily transmitted from one person to another. As of July 2021, delta is regarded as the most contagious form of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus so far. Delta is rapidly becoming the dominant variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and is now in many countries and people traveling internationally are likely to encounter it. Being fully vaccinated for COVID-19 can protect you from the delta variant, but breakthrough infections sometimes occur.

Will the COVID-19 vaccines work on the new variants?

Still, vaccines currently used appear to offer significant protection from severe disease caused by coronavirus variants. Although vaccines afford very high protection, infection with the delta and other variants remains possible. Fortunately, vaccination, even among those who acquire infections, appears to prevent serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. We need to continue all of our efforts to prevent viral transmission and to vaccinate as many people as possible, and as soon as we can.

Disclaimer

The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/variants/variant-info.html

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/a-new-strain-of-coronavirus-what-you-should-know

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/variants/variant.html

Importance of Pulse Oximeter During COVID-19

The whole world is greatly affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic caused due to emerging novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) which specifically attacks the respiratory system and reduces the oxygen-carrying capacity to develop hypoxia.

Many people with COVID-19 have low levels of oxygen in their blood, even when they feel well. Low oxygen levels can be an early warning sign that medical care is needed. The severely affected COVID-19 patients require ventilators to survive and to fulfill the need for oxygen. However, the number of ventilators is much less than that of the actual number of COVID-19 patients. 

What is a pulse oximeter and what does it measure?

A pulse oximeter is a small non-invasive device that is used to determine hypoxia in patients. The main function of the pulse oximeter is to determine the amount of oxygen saturation (SpO2), which indicates the amount of oxygen in the blood. This can give you valuable information about your health.

Can a pulse oximeter tell if someone has COVID-19?

You may be wondering if an oximeter can help detect COVID-19 early? 

Pulse oximeters are not recommended as a way to tell if someone has COVID-19.  Not everyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will develop low oxygen levels. There are people who may have a very uncomfortable fever, muscle aches, and GI upset at home, but never demonstrate low oxygen levels. Get tested if you have signs of COVID-19 or if you have been in close contact with someone who has it. The pulse oximeter can be used in primary clinical care to determine oxygen saturation. Furthermore, pulse oximeters have become a game-changer in the COVID-19 pandemic to detect the oxygen requirement in patients. However, there are several factors affecting the sensitivity of pulse oximeters that need to be understood to get an accurate reading. 

Can a pulse oximeter be a helpful tool for monitoring COVID-19 at home?

An oximeter can be a helpful tool for monitoring oxygen levels so that low oxygen levels can be detected early if a person has a mild case of COVID-19 and is self-treating at home. If you have tested positive for COVID-19 and are concerned about any developing symptoms, check immediately with your healthcare provider. If you are experiencing severe chest pain, uncontrollable coughing, or dusky lips or fingers, it’s time to go to the ER.

The pulse oximeter gives only primary judgment about oxygen saturation and it is not at all a substitute for the ABG analysis. Moreover, the pulse oximeter cannot be relied on as a sole monitor to check the various events such as cardiac complications/arrests, respiratory tract-related problems, oesophageal intubation, or failure of oxygen supply.

Disclaimer

The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

References:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00194506.2020.1845988

https://www.houstonmethodist.org/blog/articles/2020/aug/can-an-oximeter-help-detect-covid-19-at-home/

https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/pulseoximeter.html

Symptoms and Spread of Covid-19

Over the past few months, our world has been flipped upside down. Schools have shut down until further notice. Coffee shops and restaurants have followed suit, only offering takeout options. Offices have told their workers to work from home. The streets and outdoor areas are quiet too. It’s as if our lives are on pause, waiting until we can return back to normal again. Covid-19 is the pandemic that has made people all across the globe feel like they’re in a science fiction movie. It’s important to be aware of what the symptoms of Covid-19 are and how it’s spread. By having this useful information, the right steps can be taken in preventing more cases from appearing.

What is Covid-19?

Covid-19 is a disease developed by a type of virus that falls under the umbrella of Coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a big family of viruses. They’re named coronavirus because, under a microscope, the virus is covered with pointed structures, making it appear crown-like. They can cause mild diseases like cold or more severe diseases like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Some diseases are more easily transmitted than others. This new strain of coronavirus causing COVID-19  is the latest coronavirus that has been discovered. It’s also seen as the most dangerous due to how easily it spreads. What started as a controllable outbreak quickly took over the world, causing countries to close their borders and halt their economies. In comparison to SARS, Covid-19 has led to more fatalities and a quicker spread. Consequently, it makes it difficult to contain.

Symptoms of Covid-19

Anyone can become infected with Covid-19. Researchers say that symptoms of Covid-19 are quite mild because they’re similar to a cold. You may not even know you have Covid-19 because it feels like any other typical cold. Some symptoms include cough, fever, difficulty breathing, the new loss of taste or smell, chills, and muscle pain. In more serious cases, you may experience persistent pressure in the chest, trouble breathing, and bluish lips. That’s when it’s important to seek medical attention.  In severe cases, being infected by Covid-19 can lead to death. However, a large percentage of Covid-19 deaths was because individuals had complications like heart problems or weak immune systems.

Covid-19 symptoms may take up to fourteen days to appear after exposure. Furthermore, evidence has shown that you can be infected by someone who is infected, but not showing symptoms. Hence, it’s important to make sure all safety guidelines are being followed when going out and cleanliness is being maintained. As of right now, the only way to be sure you have Covid-19 is to get tested. If you are coming back from a trip or have been on a recent flight, it’s important you self-isolate. Make sure you get in touch with a doctor so your symptoms can be monitored closely. Under no circumstance should you be leaving your house for anything?

Spread of Covid-19

When the world first became aware of Covid-19, the biggest challenge was to slow down and stop the spread. China went into lockdown, but then Italy’s cases started climbing up. Shortly after, the United States began going into a state of emergency. All of these occurrences happened within weeks of each other. Flights were being canceled and borders were shutting down. Yet, Covid-19 still managed to make many countries go into a state of emergency. Well, all it takes is one person and a sneeze.

Though there is still research being done, it is believed that that Covid-19 is very likely spread through droplet contact. Droplet contact is when illnesses can be transferred by infected droplets contacting the surfaces of the eyes, nose, or mouth. These droplets are quite large and can even be visible to the eye. For example, you may see these droplets when a person sneezes. Moreover, because these droplets are quite big, they typically only spread one to two meters. They don’t stay in the air for very long but can still make a huge impact. As a result, it’s important to respect the social distancing rules put in place. More space between people means less spread and infections happening.

Covid-19 threw most of our lives out of the loop. Face masks are our newest accessories and we need to stay in line at stores if there are too many people. Social distancing rules are still intact so you shouldn’t be seeing anyone outside your household. It can get lonely sometimes, but we have to keep in mind this is for the greater good. By distancing now, we can prevent further spread in the future. Stay home and stop the spread, you never know how many lives you can save.

Disclaimer

The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Source:

www.Salinetherapy.com

Where can I buy a pulse oximeter?

Pulse oximeters for use at home aren’t new, but as COVID-19 continues to make health and safety a top priority, more people are looking for ways to manage their health.

If you’re considering getting a pulse oximeter, you can have one shipped directly to your door and most can be purchased with pre-tax. While pulse oximeters are relatively easy to find right now, with coronavirus cases rising across the globe they may be in short supply soon. 

If you’re looking for recommendations, curious how pulse oximeters even work, and who can benefit the most from using them, read on. 

What types of pulse oximeters are available?

Pulse oximeter probes or sensors can be attached to the finger, nose, ear, toes, and forehead areas, however, the most accurate readings usually come from when the pulse oximeter is clamped to the finger, specifically the middle finger, as opposed to other body parts. 

There is a wide range of oximeters to choose from nowadays. There’s a basic pulse oximeter and sophisticated models, an oximeter that can store up t0 24 hrs of data, an alarm, and has wireless connectivity to a computer or smartphone via Bluetooth to transfer the recorded data. There’s also a wristband oximeter for the overnight recording of blood oxygen saturation and pulse rate 

How to choose an oximeter?

When shopping for at-home pulse oximeters, the first to consider is to find a medical grade and is certified by Health Canada, highly-rated pulse oximeters based on reviews and from reputable companies and sellers from Amazon, Walmart, BestBuy, drugstores, and more. These pulse oximeters are labeled for medical use. Most pulse oximeters also measure your heart rate, which is also a plus to many. Remember although it’s not entirely necessary for everyone, a pulse oximeter could help give you peace of mind. 

Where can you get a pulse oximeter?

Although it was nearly impossible to find a pulse oximeter in stock a few months ago, supplies are catching up with demand, and there are several available now if you would still like to buy one for extra assurance. Pulse oximeters, normally bought online like Amazon, Walmart, BestBuy, drugstores, or via medical device suppliers. Pulse oximeters can be easy to find right now.

Pulse oximeters can be very useful tools when they are used correctly. This means a Health Canada-approved device is being used according to instructions from the manufacturer or a medical professional. Not following the proper way in using the pulse oximeter can lead to faulty readings and misinterpreted results.

Although many places sell online there are very few products that are verified as medical grade and are certified by Health Canada. Health Canada is responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health. It ensures that high-quality health services are accessible, and works to reduce health risks. They are a federal institution that is part of the Health portfolio. If you are in Canada please make sure you buy a Health Canada-approved product. While FDA has a certain level of standard, Health Canada has more elements into consideration to approve products that are safe and accurate for public use. You can visit the Health Canada website https://health-products.canada.ca/mdall-limh/ to check the status of a product if it is registered and licensed.

Disclaimer

The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

References:

https://www.healthline.com/health/best-pulse-oximeter

https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/reviewedcom/2020/11/24/where-buy-pulse-oximeters-amazon-walmart-cvs-and-more/6413563002/

https://nymag.com/strategist/article/best-pulse-oximeters.html

What is The Normal Oxygen Level?

Blood oxygen level is the amount of oxygen circulating in the blood. Your blood oxygen level measures how much oxygen is circulating with your red blood cells. The body closely monitors blood oxygen levels to keep them within a specific range, so that there is enough oxygen for the needs of every cell in the body. A person’s blood oxygen level is an indicator of how well the body distributes oxygen from the lungs to the cells, and it can be important for people’s health.

What should oxygen levels be?

Normal arterial oxygen pressure (PaO2) measured using the arterial blood gas (ABG) test is approximately 75 to 100 millimeters of mercury (75-100 mmHg). A blood oxygen level below 60 mm Hg is considered low and may require oxygen supplementation, depending on a doctor’s decision and the individual case.

Hypoxemia is diagnosed by physical examination and generally detected using ABG testing and is defined as blood oxygen levels above 120 mmHg.

When the level goes below 75 mmHg, the condition is generally termed hypoxemia. Levels under 60 mmHg are considered very low and indicate the need for supplemental oxygen. Supplemental oxygen is provided through an oxygen cylinder that is connected to the nose via a tube, with or without a mask.

Your blood oxygen level is measured as a percentage—95 to 100 percent is considered normal.

You should be check your blood oxygen if

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Asthma
  • Congestive heart failure

Other conditions include:

  • Anemia
  • Sleep apnea (temporary cessation of breathing during sleep)
  • Smoking

How is the blood oxygen level measured?

The most efficient way to monitor blood oxygen levels is by an arterial blood gas or ABG test. For this test, a blood sample is taken from an artery, usually in the wrist. This procedure is very accurate, but it can be a little painful. Another fast and easy way is by the use of a pulse oximeter. It’s a small device that clips onto your fingertip. It shines a light into the tiny blood vessels in your finger and measures the oxygen from the light that’s reflected back.

When to see a doctor

  • severe and sudden shortness of breath
  • severe shortness of breath that get worse during exercise or physical activity
  • shortness of breath even when at rest
  • wake suddenly with shortness of breath or a feeling of choking

Disclaimer

The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

References:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321044

https://www.medicinenet.com/what_are_blood_oxygen_levels/article.htm

https://www.bannerhealth.com/healthcareblog/teach-me/blood-oxygen-level-what-you-need-to-know

What is SPO2 or Oxygen Saturation?

What is SPO2?

SpO2, also known as Blood Oxygen Saturation, an estimate of the amount of oxygen in the blood. Which refers to the amount of oxygenated hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen and carbon dioxide. It is found inside red blood cells and gives them their red color. 

Understanding SpO2 and Normal Oxygen Levels

A measurement of your blood oxygen is called your oxygen saturation level. Your blood oxygen level is a measure of how much oxygen your red blood cells are carrying. Your body closely regulates your blood oxygen level. It is vital to your health to maintain the precise balance of oxygen-saturated blood.

A SpO2 reading of 95% or greater is generally considered to be a normal oxygen level. However, a SpO2 reading of 92% or less (at sea level) suggests that your blood is poorly saturated. Insufficient saturation can cause a range of adverse health conditions including chest pain, shortness of breath, and increased heart rate.

Measuring SpO2

There are two ways that the blood can be tested to ensure it contains normal oxygen levels. 

  • An arterial blood gas (ABG) test is a blood test and it’s called  Arterial blood gas. It also can detect the level of other gases in your blood, as well as the pH (acid/base level). An ABG is very accurate, but it’s invasive.
  • The most common way is to use a pulse-oximeter to measure the SpO2 levels in the blood. Pulse oximeters are relatively easy to use, are very accurate despite their low price point.

A measurement of your blood oxygen is called your oxygen saturation level. Good blood oxygenation is necessary to supply the energy your muscles need in order to function, which increases during activity. If your blood oxygen level is below-normal it is called hypoxemia and that could be a sign of poor blood oxygenation, also called hypoxia. Your doctor can provide recommendations as to what ranges of oxygen levels are acceptable for you.

Disclaimer

The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

What is a pulse oximeter?

How asthmatic kids can benefit from the pulse oximeter

The pulse oximeter is a device that can tell how much oxygen is in the blood. Ideally, oxygen saturation should be between 95-99%. If it hits 95% or lower would result in hypoxemia and should be a major concern. The child should be rushed to the ER if it is anything below 90% because, without enough oxygen, the major organs in the body such as the brain, liver, etc. can be damaged just minutes after the symptoms start.

How can the pulse oximeter be beneficial for kids with asthma? When a child has a flare or a severe asthma attack, the airway narrows making it hard for the child to breathe and the air to get in the lungs. Coughing to clear the lungs uses more oxygen thus making the symptoms worse. Oxygen levels can also drop even when the child has stopped coughing or when sleeping. There are some people with breathing problems that have died in their sleep because they weren’t getting enough oxygen. So, by regularly using the pulse oximeter, the level of oxygen saturation can be measured determining whether the child is still getting enough oxygen or the oxygen saturation level is too low.

The pulse oximeter like the CMS-50QB ‏is one device that can be used to monitor oxygen saturation. It is a simple, portable monitor for measuring oxygen saturation and pulse rate and is suitable for use indoors and outdoors. It is also used in monitoring COPD patients or those who suffer chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Other people who benefit from regularly measuring the level of oxygen saturation are patients with heart problems and anemia among others.

What is Oxygen Saturation Monitoring in Children?

As parents, making sure that your child is healthy and happy is always a topmost priority. We are always in the lookout for any signs that can compromise their health. We want to monitor as much as we can on everything that happens to them.

One of the signs that we should be on guard for is Cyanosis or Turning Blue. This happens when there is not sufficient level of oxygen in the blood. It can be evident at birth but can also appear any time later in life and most often accompanies conditions in which the lungs or heart is compromised.

Cyanosis is one of the symptoms of Hypoxemia, a medical condition wherein there is an abnormally low level of oxygen in the blood. More specifically, it is oxygen deficiency in the arterial blood.

Oxygen saturation means the amount of oxygen being carried in your child’s red blood cells. The optimal oxygen saturation of the blood lies between 95-98 %. Anything less than 95% results in hypoxemia and should be a major concern.

How is oxygen saturation monitoring in children done? One way to measure oxygen saturation is through a test called arterial blood gas. Instead of taking the blood from the vein, it is taken from the artery and the amount of oxygen present is determined.

Another way is through a pulse oximeter. A pulse oximeter like CMS-50QB ‏is one device that can be used to monitor oxygen saturation. It is a simple, portable monitor for measuring oxygen saturation and pulse rate and is suitable for use indoors and outdoors. It is also used in monitoring COPD patients or those who suffer chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

On one side, the clip contains a strong light source, which shines through the finger. On the other side, a sensor measures what proportion of the light penetrated through the finger and what was absorbed. Different proportions of light penetrate the finger according to the level of saturation of the blood. From this, the oxygen saturation figure is calculated. The pulse rate can also be measured and displayed. The sensor or probe is connected to the monitor by a long thin, wire. It can be used on the finger or the toe.

The monitor and sensor or probe is totally safe, non-invasive and will not hurt your child when it is applied securely but not tightly on the finger or toe. The probe or sensor may be used on a different toe or finger every 8 hours to make sure that the device is working and to give the child’s finger or toe some rest.

Children with low level of oxygen saturation need to be connected to the monitor at all times so that their level of oxygen is constantly monitored. While for others, monitoring can be done when they are sleeping. Your doctor or health provider will determine how long your child needs to be monitored.

When your child’s oxygen is low, oxygen therapy is done so that your child will receive a higher concentration of oxygen than we normally breathe in the air. A face mask or nasal tube is connected to a mechanical ventilator.