As Covid-19 cases rise in the country, patients and caregivers are running pillar to post scouting for crucial supplies and resources- right from oxygen cylinders, ICU beds to medicines. The number of critical cases has led to an acute shortage of hospital beds and oxygen supply. The demand for medical oxygen has increased with many states reporting a shortage in supply.
COVID-19 primarily affects the lungs, making it tough for the person to breathe. At such a time, when the healthcare infrastructure is overwhelmed with the number of cases. COVID-19 with mild symptoms or people in-home quarantine noticing a dip in their oxygen levels can practice lying on the stomach, or the prone position to improve their oxygen levels.
Proning is the process of turning a patient with precise, safe motions, from their back onto their abdomen (stomach), so that the person is lying face down. This position helps with breathing and oxygenation and is medically proven.
The Ministry of Health on Thursday tweeted out a set of instructions meant to help patients, emphasising prone positioning which improves ventilation, keeps alveolar units open, making breathing easy.
As per instructions, proning improves ventilation and is required only when oxygen level falls below 94 per cent.
The advisory suggested placing one pillow under the neck, one or two pillows under the chest through the upper thighs and two under the shins. Regular alterations in lying position are best and recommended not spending more than 30 minutes in one position, the document said.
It is required only when a patient feels difficulty in breathing and the SpO2 fall below 94. Regular monitoring of SpO2, along with other signs like temperature, blood pressure and blood sugar, is important during home isolation.
The ministry also warned against trying the position an hour after meals and pregnant women should not resort to lying on the stomach, and also those suffering from deep venous thrombosis, major cardiac conditions, unstable spine, femur, or pelvic fractures.
Apart from government instructions, a study published in the European Respiratory Journal, 2002 also mentioned the proning technique has proven to be an effective measure for a long time in the treatment of patients with acute respiratory disease syndrome (ARDS) and is one of the simple and safe methods to improve oxygenation.
However, the prone method is a temporary substitute and not a replacement for hospitals or oxygen cylinders.