India's healthcare infrastructure is facing a major downer due to the Coronavirus pandemic crisis. The breakdown in hospitals has led to a rise in the number of daily death cases in the whole country. According to health experts, the new Covid strain found in Sri Lanka recently is airborne and thus highly transmissible. In fact, the droplets can remain airborne even for almost an hour. The virus is now infecting more younger people. The new strain of Covid-19 is creating a situation of panic and is spreading rapidly. Earlier in UK, the widespread was interlinked with a major increase in SARS-CoV-2 infections. The mutant virus, named “VUI 202012/01" and lineage B.1.1.7, includes a genetic mutation in the spike protein that might be the main cause for rapid and easy spread of the virus amongst people.
As per many researchers, it is believed that the new variant can attack your immune system quicker and more severely than the previous strains of Covid-19. According to the observations till now, it is also being observed that the new Covid strain is a lot more infectious as compared to the previous strains, which makes it even more dangerous. COVID-19 infection affects the respiratory system, which then leads to breathlessness and reduced oxygen levels in the second wave of Coronavirus. The normal oxygen level is usually 95 per cent or higher. In such challenging times, health ministry issued a guideline on the prone positioning for self care for Covid-19 patients at home in India. Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Rajesh Kumar Pande, Senior director and HOD, Critical care, BLK - MAX Super speciality hospital, about prone position helping fight the new Covid strain symptoms.
How Can Prone Position Help Covid Patients Fight The New Covid Strain Symptoms?
Dr. Rajesh said, "The problems with new strain and old strain of COVID-19 are same. There might be a slight difference between one causing mild illness while the other causing more difficulty. The lung function (absorbing oxygen and letting out carbon di oxide) deflates in Covid positive patients. Then, the lungs become empty and the oxygen reduces in the blood supply. Covid affects the functional unit of the lungs, i.e alveoli. The passage gets blocked and there is no alternative route, due to which less oxygen goes inside. With prone positioning, the weight of the heart is supported by the breast bone and the rib cage, putting less pressure on the lungs. Therefore, the lungs can expand fully and inflate better." As a result, the oxygen levels also improve.
Proning is lying on the chest and stomach or on the sides and has proved to be useful for COVID-19 patients. It helps the body in getting air into all parts of the lungs. The patients should prefer lying in this position instead of lying flat on the back. According to a study published in the European Respiratory Journal, 2002, this technique is an extremely effective step to treat patients suffering from acute respiratory disease syndrome (ARDS) and is known as “a simple and safe method to improve oxygenation”. Proning is one of the easiest ways to maintain your oxygen levels and to keep the lungs healthy.
The study told about what the main physiological motive of prone positioning is. It is to improve oxygenation, to improve respiratory mechanics, homogenise the pleural pressure gradient, the alveolar inflation and the ventilation distribution, to increase lung volume and reduce the amount of atelectatic regions, facilitate the drainage of secretions; and to reduce ventilator related lung injury. The study also said that oxygenation improves in most of the patients with early acute respiratory disease.
If the oxygen level drops below 94% and a patient is in home isolation, the best way is to lie down on the stomach. This requires 4-5 pillows for the prone position. One pillow has to be placed below the neck, one or two can be placed below the chest through the upper thighs and two other pillows should be placed below the shins. The patient needs to change their position after every 30 minutes from lying on the belly to them lying on each side.
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