Happy Hypoxia and Pulse Oximeter

What is happy hypoxia?

Happy hypoxia is a condition when patients do not show any symptoms of difficulty breathing despite low oxygen levels in the body. A normal reading is between 95% and 100%, with anything below that considered as low. It is difficult to identify Covid-19 patients who are experiencing happy hypoxia because they look calm, normal and cheerful as usual. Therefore, it is known as a silent killer because when this oxygen deficiency cannot be detected and treated early, Covid-19 patients can die.

Patients with no symptoms or mild symptoms of COVID-19 infection sometimes undergo home quarantine. The World Health Organisation guidelines advocates pulse oximeters for home use in symptomatic patients who are not hospitalised and are undergoing monitoring at home.

What is a pulse oximeter?

A pulse oximeter is a medical device used to measure the level of oxygen in the body. It is regulated by the Medical Devices Authority under the Medical Devices Act 2012 to ensure its safety and effectiveness before it can be sold in the market. 

Check the following link before buying: https://mdar.mda.gov.my/frontend/web/index.php?r=carian%2Findex&CompletedApplicationAllmdrSearch[globalSearch]=Oximeter

The usefulness of a pulse oximeter:

• Detection of “silent hypoxia”, in the absence of shortness of breath and accompanying danger signs

• Monitoring and early identification of deterioration of clinical condition

• Confirmation of oxygen saturation levels


Do not rely only on a pulse oximeter to assess your health condition or oxygen level. Pay attention to other signs or symptoms of low oxygen levels, such as:

·         Bluish colouring in the face, lips, or nails

·         Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or a cough that gets worse

·         Restlessness and discomfort

·         Chest pain or tightness

·         Fast or racing pulse rate.

Only a health care provider can diagnose a medical condition such as hypoxia (low oxygen levels). Seek immediate medical attention if oxygen reading is less than 95%.

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