Patients say they feel like they’re drowning. Oxygen requirement increases from 4 to 15 to 40 liters per minute. Bronchodilators, medicines that widen your air passages, give little relief. Little things you do, such as sitting up, can negatively impact your oxygen levels.
Stage 2 often ends with you entering an intensive care unit.
Reaching stage 3 of the severe stages of COVID-19 requires even more drastic measures.
Since you’re exhausted from hyperventilating (to bring more oxygen into your lungs), the doctor will use “positive pressure ventilation.” It is a non-invasive procedure where you’ll wear a large mask wrapped around your face, so a machine can push pressure into your lungs, opening them up and allowing them to receive more oxygen.
Among all the severe stages of COVID-19, stage 4 is perhaps the most frightening.
Your breathing doesn’t improve; in fact, it becomes more labored. Your blood oxygen level becomes critically low, that doctors need to decide whether to intubate you or not.
If you cannot tolerate intubation, doctors might call your loved ones. It might be the last time they’ll hear your voice.
Successful intubation means you’ll be hooked to a ventilator. That also means you need a rectal tube, catheter, and you’ll eat through a feeding tube.