Head of OU Medical Center’s ICU speaks about COVID-19-related respiratory problems


OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A top metro doctor spoke with News 4 to address respiratory problems related to COVID-19.

Dr. Brent Brown, Medical Director of OU Medical Center’s ICU, says there are particular concerns about people who already have lung disease, conditions like asthma, COPD, and even people who smoke or vape.

“Based on the information that we’ve obtained from other countries, like China and Italy and Spain, we know that these people are more likely to get severe disease, lung disease from the COVID-19 virus than someone who does not have a condition, like that,” said Brown.

Brown says he has never seen anything like this before.

“I guess the closest comparisons that we might have is from history, would be the H1N1 epidemics from 1918, so its been longer than anybody alive has seen anything resembling this,” he said.

It’s allergy season in Oklahoma. He says the difference between COVID-19 and allergies is in the symptoms.

“If you are an allergy sufferer and you have something more like shortness of breath and coughing and fever, then you need to begin to be concerned that maybe you’ve got the COVID-19 virus in addition to your allergies, and you should contact your healthcare provide,” he said.

Brown says ventilators are used for some patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

“So a minority of patients that get COVID-19 – maybe 20 percent – will be much sicker than those that can actually stay at home, and of those 20 percent, some will develop – after a week after they’ve been sick with the virus – breathing difficulties. The breathing difficulties come on quickly, and so people can go from being alright in the morning to really, really low on oxygen levels within 24-hours. And what they’re most likely to notice will be shortness of breath when they walk around and do things, even just things that are ordinary activities,” he said.

Brown says it’s strange to think about what’s gone on with this COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was familiar with pandemics, the 1918 H1N1 Influenza outbreak, and you never think that the thing is going to happen during your time. So, I think that health care providers, doctors and other health care professionals are finding themselves in a surreal situation where it’s almost like it’s a bad movie, but people are rising to the occasion and going to meet the need here,” he said.

Continued Coronavirus Coverage

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