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With the ongoing second COVID-19 wave, the country is witnessing an acute shortage of beds and oxygen cylinders. The continuous surge in daily cases has overburdened the hospitals. As a result, patients experiencing severe implications of the virus, or having oxygen saturation level below 92% are getting admitted to the hospital.
Since the virus mainly attacks the respiratory system of a healthy human being, the government has advised the people to practice the medically approved technique of ‘Proning’. Now, if you are wondering what Proning is or how you can practice it, hang in there. You will get answers to all your queries by the end of the article.
What is Proning?
Proning refers to the ‘lying position’ on your chest and stomach while practicing deep breathing. It is a medically approved process and helps in improving the oxygenation of the body. The position is considered efficient in providing oxygen to various parts of the body, which is usually not possible when we lay on our sides or back.
You might be surprised to know that the technique is not new at all. It has been there for decades and used in the treatment of patients with acute respiratory disease syndrome (ARDS). According to a study published in the European Journal, 2002, it was referred to as “a simple and safe method to improve oxygenation”.
How does it help COVID-19 patients?
The COVID-19 virus attacks your lungs and weakens your respiratory system. As a consequence, the oxygen levels in your body continue to fall, and might even result in death in some cases. The best way to monitor your oxygen levels is through an Oxi Pulse meter.
The reading on an Oxi Pulse meter for a healthy individual would be 95 or above. On the other hand, below 95 is an indication that you need to consult a health professional. Any drop below 92 means you need to be hospitalised and require oxygen support.
If you aren’t able to get any bed in these tough times, first isolate yourself. Make sure the room of isolation is properly ventilated and receives fresh air for most times of the day. Now, practicing proning in such a case will not only help you in oxygenation but also delays the ventilator support that you might require earlier. Awake proning ensures that the tissues in your body receive a proper flow of oxygen. The other best feature of the practice is that it improves your oxygen level in a matter of minutes.
How to do Proning?
There are two ways to do it:
Pillow-Proning: As described by the Indian Health Ministry
According to the instructions prescribed, lay down on your chest and stomach and place a pillow under your neck. Place two under your chest and one under your shins. In this position, practice deep breathing. In a matter of a few minutes, you will be able to witness an improvement in your oxygen levels.
The 30-minute method
According to this method, you need to switch your lying position every 30 minutes. The method involves the following steps:
Step 1: Lying on your stomach — Duration: 30 minutes
Step 2: Lying on the Right Side — Duration: 30 minutes
Step 3: Sitting up at an angle between 60-90 degrees (Fowler position) — Duration: 30 minutes
Step 4: Lying on the Left Side — Duration: 30 minutes
Step 5: Return to your initial position
You can choose to extend the exercise from 30 minutes to 2 hours. All you need to ensure is that you are not in an uncomfortable position while proning.
Are the effects of Proning permanent?
Even though proning seems the best way to improve oxygenation, it is yet to be seen whether its effects are permanent or it’s just one way to delay mechanical ventilation. Apart from that, it is advised that pregnant women, a person with spinal injury or history, increased intracranial pressure, and open abdomen wounds avoid proning at all costs.
You should practice it only when you are awake. While sleeping, you can choose to sleep in your usual posture.
These are some of the important things you should know about proning!