Amid rising cases, Health Ministry advises proning at home for COVID-19 patients: Here's what it means

While the country is battling with the second wave of coronavirus pandemic, hospitals are reeling under a severe shortage of medical grade oxygen for COVID-19 patients. Amid all this, the Union Health Ministry has advised 'proning for self care' for coronavirus patients, stating that it is extremely beneficial for such patients with breathing problem.

What is proning?

According to Union Health Ministry, proning is a medically accepted position to improve breathing and oxygenation. It is extremely beneficial in COVID-19 patients during home isolation.

The process

While explaining the process, the ministry said it is a way of turning a patient with precise, safe motions, from their back onto abdomen (stomach), so that the individual is lying face down. The Health Ministry released a document, in which it said that prone positioning improves ventilation, and makes breathing easy by keeping alveolar units open.

It is required only when the oxygen level falls below 94 per cent. "Proning is required only when the patient feels difficulty in breathing and the SpO2 decreases below 94. Regular monitoring of SpO2, along with other signs like temperature, blood pressure and blood sugar, is important during home isolation. Missing out on hypoxia (compromised oxygen circulation) may lead to worsening of complications. Timely proning and maintaining good ventilation could save many lives," the document said.

It also listed a series of steps to perform the exercise at home: Place one pillow below the neck; one or two pillow below the chest through upper thighs and two pillows below the shins.

"One may prone for up to 16 hours a day, in multiple cycles, as felt comfortable. Pillows may be adjusted slightly to alter pressure areas and for comfort. Keep a track of any pressure sores or injuries, especially around bony prominence," it said.

Who should avoid it?

The ministry has listed four conditions when proning should be avoided.

> Pregnancy

> Deep venous thrombosis (treated in less than 48 hours)

> Major cardiac conditions

> Unstable spine, femur or pelvic fractures.

When to avoid proning?

The ministry, however, said one must not prone an hour after meals and do it for only as many times as tolerable.

> Avoid proning for an hour after meals

> Maintain proning for only as much times as easily tolerable

> One may prone for up to 16 hours a day, in multiple cycles, as felt comfortable

> Keep a track of any pressure sores or injuries, especially around bony prominences

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