As the covid crisis in India hits there is a worrying lack of medical oxygen supplies for patients in desperate need. The coronavirus is spreading fast and for a densely populated country their medical facilities and completely under strain.
Cases had been falling and people were beginning to be out and about more including religious festivals and political rallies.
As quoted by the Guardian, ‘In the middle of March, the number of recorded cases started to grow faster than in any other country, this week passing 300,000 a day, along with more than 2,000 deaths, close to twice the daily deaths India experienced during the first peak of the virus between July and September 2020.’
A staggering statistic that the country will be fighting to keep under control. As many doctors, nurses and families take to social media to show how desperate they are in need of oxygen let’s hope that we can help supply India’s crisis and they manage to receive what they so desperately need to save lives.
Diabetes can cause many health problems for sufferers and one of these is macular oedema. This is a fluid build-up in the part of the eye that is responsible for central vision. Diabetic macular oedema affects up to 10 percent of all patients with diabetes. It is caused when high blood sugar eventually causes damage in blood vessels of the retina and a decrease in the supply of oxygen and nutrients. When the retina experiences low oxygen levels it releases vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and other substances that cause the retinal blood vessels to become leaky and stimulates the growth of new blood vessels. The leakage of fluid into the macular causes it to become thickened and results in vision loss. Many patients have laser treatment to try and correct it, however many patients find that they still suffer persistent oedema.
A pilot study has monitored diabetic patients breathing supplemental oxygen through a nasal cannula and found that it helped to reduce fluid build-up and swelling and in some cases improved their visual acuity fairly dramatically. Patients were given 4 litres per minute of oxygen via a nasal cannula and asked to use it continuously for three months day and night.
After the three months it was found that there was an average 50% decreases in the excess thickness of the macular, the excess thickness of the fovea (responsible for sharpness of vision) and in the macular volume. Also a third had improved visual acuity with the ability to read two lines higher on an eye chart.
In addition it was noted that when the supplemental oxygen therapy was discontinued the subject’s vision slowly worsened. However in those where their eyes had returned to within the normal range whilst on supplemental oxygen, their eyesight did not worsen but remained within the normal ranges once the supplemental oxygen was stopped.
It appears that supplemental oxygen reduces the production of VEGF, which reduces the amount of leaking in retinal vessels and therefore lessens the severity of macular oedema.
Researchers believe that this could be used in conjunction with eye laser treatment to improve oxygenation to the retina to provide long-term eye stability. The oxygen treatment could reduce the thickness of the retina prior to laser treatment in order to make the laser treatment more effective and long-lasting, for when supplemental oxygen is ceased. There are also oral drugs being developed that block receptors for VEGF and could be used in conjunction with supplemental oxygen to help improve results.
References: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org and http://iovs.arvojournals.org
Research carried out at the Human Cognitive Neuroscience unit at the University of Northumbria, have discovered that mental performance can be greatly improved by inhaling a shot of oxygen.
Our brains only account for 2% of our body weight however it consumes the most energy (20-30%) out of all the organs but yet it cannot store very much energy and relies on a constant supply via the bloodstream.
In the tests students were given a one-minute blast of oxygen after being asked to remember a list of words. They remembered more words than those who didn’t take any additional oxygen. Other students took oxygen whilst they were playing the higher levels of Tetrix, a computer game and it was found that they performed much better compared to students who didn’t take any additional oxygen.
It would appear that additional oxygen blasts can aid in the brain performing at an increased level while it is attempting more demanding tasks.
Dr Sholey adds; “Even the most esoteric brain functions obey biological rules. By tweaking fuel availability to the brain, simply by throwing a bit more fuel on to the fire, you can improve cognitive function to some degree.”
Cognitive improvement has been recorded in patients who use oxygen therapy at home but can also be linked to the research that has been carried out that suggests exercise will make you smarter. Exercise will improve your cardiovascular system which will in turn increase the amount of oxygen being pumper round the body. The brain relies on the bloodstream for it’s oxygen supply and therefore will receive the optimal amount of oxygen possible if we are at our fittest. More fuel means more energy, which results in improved brain function.
However there is also research and studies that suggest that short periods of hypoxia (oxygen deficiency) also aids in increasing and improving oxygenation levels in the body and brain and could also aid in improving brain function ability. It is thought to be the reason why so many people who live in mountainous regions (where due to the altitude the oxygen levels in the air are a lot lower) live a lot longer. It is thought that a temporary, brief state of hypoxia causes reserve capillaries to open up, increase the amount of erythrocytes in the blood, increase the amount of circulating blood and increase blood supply to tissues. It is believed to improve your mood, immunity and metabolism as well as mental and physical capabilities. The idea was tested via a mask that alternated between a gaseous mixture containing normal oxygen levels and one that contained a much lower level. A similar affect can be carried out by ourselves easily by adjusting our breathing patterns and letting out a very long exhale, which will create a temporary hypoxic state.
References: http://www.theguardian.com and http://www.intellectbreathing.com