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UI Doctor Explains Symptoms and Prevention of Cytokine Storms in Covid-19 Patients


KOMPAS.com – Cytokine storms could be one of the reasons Covid-19 patients develop serious conditions.

Internal Medicine Specialist at the University of Indonesia Hospital (RSUI), Adityo Susilo explained that a cytokine storm is a condition when the body releases certain substances in very large quantities to deal with external attacks, in the form of bacteria or viruses.

This excessive response by the body can cause an inflammation which then has the potential to damage the function of a person’s internal organs.

“If Covid-19 sufferers experience a cytokine storm, it means they are experiencing a severe inflammatory phase, so we need to be careful,” said Adityo, as summarized from the UI page, Monday (13/9/2021).

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He said that not all COVID-19 sufferers will experience a cytokine storm. In general, patients who experience a cytokine storm will experience fever, pain, and of course a decrease in oxygen saturation.

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“During this cytokine storm period, oxygen saturation will decrease to below 90 percent. That is, if the patient does not have a severe fever and breathing is still good, then the patient has not been categorized as a cytokine storm,” he added.

Oxygen saturation, Adityo explained, is a basic parameter of whether a person is experiencing a cytokine storm or not.

Furthermore, he explains that intense and uncontrolled inflammation is one of the triggers that can lead to greater tissue damage when a cytokine storm is underway in patients.

This tissue damage will later cause fever and decreased lung function.

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So, he explained, monitoring using an oximeter is important to see the development of oxygen saturation in Covid-19 patients.

Cytokine storm triggers and prevention

“It is important because in this condition the patient may experience what is called happy hypoxia,” he said.

Happy hypoxia is a condition of decreased oxygen levels in the body that does not cause symptoms. In this condition, a person does not experience shortness of breath and is even normal even though he is experiencing a decrease in oxygen.

Therefore, this oximeter should be a reference for detecting the presence of cytokine storm conditions in a person’s body.

Adityo said, while treating Covid-19 patients, a person’s cytokine storm can be seen from the health history of each individual, both from the age factor, obesity condition, and history of chronic illness.

He said obese patients would be more at risk of experiencing a cytokine storm because they would be susceptible to inflammation.

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“Even though individuals experience these risk factors, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will be exposed to a cytokine storm. Conversely, individuals who do not have these risk factors, does not mean they will not be exposed to a cytokine storm. Everything goes back to each individual’s immune system, because each individual’s immune defense is certainly different,” he said.

In other words, these risk factors are only a prediction, not an indicator of the certainty of a person being exposed to a cytokine storm or not.

He also reminded that people need to maintain their immune system to avoid the transmission of Covid-19 and cytokine storms.

To support the immune system, everyone needs healthy nutrition. These nutritional needs consist of macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients.

“Carbohydrates, protein, and fat are macronutrients that are good for people to consume, while good types of micronutrients are vitamins and minerals. We consume both macro and micronutrients regularly to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle,” he said.

Finally, he reminded the public not to be consumed by hoaxes circulating on social media.

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If they find important information, but the truth is still in doubt, the public should seek further information to find out the truth.

Digging for information, he explained, could be through valid internet sources or asking colleagues who are competent or experts in the field so that the public can avoid any circulating hoaxes.

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