Life-saving lessons from a COVID-19 ER Doctor

An ER doctor shares life-saving lessons on how to reduce COVID-19 deaths: early identification of “silent hypoxia,” which is easy to do at home. 

Scroll down to learn more, or try this simple assessment right away!


In a recent New York Times article, Dr. Richard Levitan reports his experience with COVID-19 ER patients. They showed “diffuse” pneumonia and dangerously low oxygen levels.

COVID-19 diffuse pneumonia ER doctor Levitan Buteyko silent hypoxia low oxygen levels

Low oxygen levels (hypoxia) should cause distress in patients:

arterial oxygen saturation PSO2 wikipedia hypoxia slilent pneumonia asthma
Effect of decreased oxygen saturation. SOURCE:

Surprisingly, Dr. Levitan’s COVID-19 patients showed relatively little distress. Many even continued to use their cell phones while awaiting care.

This “silent hypoxia” is a real danger for COVID-19 patients. 


However, Dr. Levitan reports there was one sign these COVID-19 patients showed: changes in their breathing. Specifically, their breathing was faster and deeper. 

This is consistent with the observations of  Dr. Konstantin Buteyko, a pioneer who specialized in asthma and respiratory diseases. Dr. Buteyko established that as a patient’s condition became more severe, their breathing rate increased.


“In effect, patients are injuring their own lungs by breathing harder and harder,” writes Dr. Levitan. The increased rate of breathing causes an increase in inflammation, which further damages the lungs.

For twenty percent of COVID-19 pneumonia patients, a second and deadlier phase of lung injury begins, which results in acute respiratory failure.


Early detection of changes in breathing can be a life-saving intervention for COVID-19 patients. Fortunately, there are TWO WAYS we can monitor breathing changes at home.

1) Use a pulse oximeter to measure the oxygen saturation in your finger. 

At sea level, a healthy individual will usually exhibit oxygen saturation values between 96% and 99%.   At 1,600 meters’ altitude (about one mile high) oxygen saturation should be above 92%.

You can purchase a pulse oximeter at a pharmacy or online. Most are made to fit an adult, but you can find ones designed to work on a child (see below).

To monitor an adult:

To monitor an adult’s o2 during the day and during sleep (as well as heart rate and motion):

To monitor a child:

2) Assess your breathing using the basic principles of Buteyko breathing. Learn the simple DIY method in this video:

Use these two methods to determine if someone is showing the signs of a breathing problem. Use appropriate, early interventions at the first indication of a problem–and save lives thanks to this ER doctor’s lessons.

One other sign of unhealthy breathing is using the mouth to breathe. Use your nose exclusively. If you can’t breathe through your nose because it is stuffy,  use my 3-step program  to clear it.

When you get back to nose breathing, you boost your immune system and have the best chance of stopping coronavirus before it makes you sick.


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    *Disclaimer: The information contained on this website is not intended to serve as a replacement for professional medical advice. Any use of the information is at the reader’s discretion. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly and indirectly from the use or application of any information contained on this website. A health care professional should be consulted regarding your specific situation.