Oxygen Starvation



VENTILATORS may be causing the lung damage, not the virus

1:42:”It appears to be some kind of virally-induced disease most resembling high altitude sickness. It is as if tens of thousands of my fellow New Yorkers are on a plane at 30,000 feet and the cabin pressure is slowly being let out. These patients are slowly being starved of oxygen. I have seen patients dependent on oxygen take off their oxygen and quickly progress through a state of anxiety, and emotional distress, and eventually get blue in the face, and while they look like patients absolutely on the brink of death, they do not look like patients dying of pneumonia. I have never been a mountain climber and I do not know the conditions at base camps below the highest peaks in the world, but I suspect that the patients that I’m seeing in front of me look most like as if a person was dropped off on the top of mount Everest without time to acclimate.”

This connects to a report from Everest in 1922:

Captain G J Finch, who took part in the Mount Everest expedition, speaking at a meeting of the Royal Geographical Society, London, last evening on the equipment for high climbing, testified to the comfort of cigarette smoking at very high altitude. He said that he and two other members of the expedition camped at 25,000 ft for over 26 hours and all that time they used no oxygen.

About half an hour after arrival he noticed in a very marked fashion that unless he kept his mind on the question of breathing, making it a voluntary process instead of an involuntary one, he suffered from lack of air. He had 30 cigarettes with him, and as a measure of desperation he lit one. After deeply inhaling the smoke he and his companions found they could take their mind off the question of breathing altogether … The effect of a cigarette lasted at least three hours, and when the supply of cigarettes was exhausted they had recourse to oxygen, which enabled them to have their first sleep at this great altitude.

And that in its turn connects to recent reports that smoking tobacco seems to offer protection against Covid-19. It appears that mountaineers were aware 100 years ago of the benefits of smoking at very high altitude.

My 72-year-old personal testimony: I have myself been intermittently suffering from shortness of breath (no idea if it’s Covid-19) since 17 January 2020 , when I got out of my bed in the morning and sat gasping for breath for an hour or two before my breathing returned to normal. Although I had a slight cough, my lungs were clear. I concluded that my blood oxygen levels had fallen to a low level, and that was why I had been gasping for breath.

Over the past two months of studying intermittent episodes of shortness of breath, I’ve found that more or less any physical effort (standing up, walking around, sitting down, picking things up) can trigger them. Performing physical work of this kind will deplete blood oxygen, as glucose in cells is burned with oxygen. The shortness of breath starts shortly after I’ve done physical work of this kind.

I’m very seldom short of breath while sitting or standing or lying quietly in bed. It starts up when I do something. And I’ve found that if I do everything slowly I don’t get short of breath. That means standing up slowly, picking things up slowly, walking around slowly. It also helps if I break activities down into separate actions with pauses between them (e.g. stand up – pause – walk across room – pause – fill kettle – pause). If I do everything at normal speed, I’m more or less guaranteed to find myself breathing very heavily (and also sometimes experiencing incontinence). The shortness of breath doesn’t last long: after a few minutes my breathing usually returns to normal.

This morning I found myself breathing very heavily after doing next to nothing (walking from one room to another and filling a kettle), and did something I normally don’t do: I sat down and lit a roll-up and inhaled its smoke deeply while still puffing and  panting. By the time I’d got half way through the cigarette, my breathing had subsided nearly back to normal.

That’s just one test. I think I’ll try that again a few times to see if there’s consistent relief. But it does seem to square with both the Everest mountaineers and recent reports of smoking helping with Covid-19.

While episodes of shortness of breath are generally associated with physical effort, there does seem to be a psychological element to it as well: I can be sitting quietly and suddenly find myself starting to breathe heavily without having done anything.

It varies from day to day. Yesterday I experienced next to no shortage of breath throughout the day. Also at the moment I haven’t been out of my flat for 3 or 4 weeks.

About Frank Davis

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30 Responses to Oxygen Starvation

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I wonder about your heart Frank? It’s not always lungs. When you feel short of breath is your pulse regular? Love you Frank. Stay well!

    • Frank Davis says:

      My heart seems OK. When short of breath it beats a bit faster.

      • Elizabeth says:

        Thank you, Frank. I know several people with breathing stuff that isn’t their lungs, so I just wondered. At my age (75) nearly every one of my friends are on some pill, or many pills – usually many! I’m the one who drank too much and joined AA in 1980 and smoked for 50 years – I avoid pills like the plague – and doctors too. I take 2000iu vitamin D3 a day, that is all, because, compared to Africa, there is hardly ever any sun here. I’ve been here for 22 years and am always surprised if we have a sunny day! Stay well, stay safe and stay blogging.

      • Frank you mention that when you feel short of breath and you pay attention to it you feel that your heart begins to be faster.You might consider the possibility that the reason your heart is beating faster is because you are momentarily concerned about why you are short of breath and become somewhat anxious about it.It is at least possible that that is the main reason your heart begins to beat faster.

        Something else you might want to consider, and that I would encourage you other people to consider as well: When you are experiencing conditions that involve mucus and cough it is always possible that you are simply experiencing some degree of an allergic reaction.I

        Few week ago I began having some upper chest congestion And I was concerned about the present situation as it continued For a week or 2. And then for some reason it occurred to me that because I’m spending a little more time indoors right now it was possible That might be some sort of mild allergic reaction. So I pulled out my bottle of Diphenhydramine tablets, you know, the basic allergy tablets with the little pink pills. I began taking them and lo and behold My cough went away!

        – MJM

  2. slugbop007 says:

    I am starving for another Russian Revolution, it has been over 100 years since the last one. Now would be a good time to oust Vlad and his social engineering minions.


    • Dmitry says:

      You may starve as long as you like, losing some weight is OK, but you better ask us, Russians, if we need yet another revolution.

  3. Griblet says:

    Experts from the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease have said they are “deeply concerned” about coronavirus’ impact on the world’s 1.3 billion smokers.

    Gan Quan, a public health specialist and director of the union, said: “The best thing the tobacco industry can do to fight COVID-19 is to immediately stop producing, marketing and selling tobacco.”

    Ah the ‘never let a crisis go to waste’ playbook so beloved of left wing statists and authoritarians everywhere. I bet ASH and Arnott are beside themselves with unadulterated joy.

  4. Rose says:

    There was a lot of new science around the year the antismokers got me banned from the pub.

    Nitric oxide helps high-altitude survival

    “CLEVELAND, Nov. 6 US researchers have discovered high blood levels of nitric oxide allow people to live at high altitudes where air has low levels of oxygen.

    Dr. Serpil Erzurum, chairman of the Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Pathobiology, and colleagues from Case Western Reserve University analyzed blood samples and blood flow readings from 88 Tibetans living at altitudes of 14,000 feet. They compared the measurements with those of 50 people who live at locations near sea level.

    The Tibetans were found to have 10 times more nitric oxide and more than double the forearm blood flow of sea-level dwellers.

    The researchers said they believe the high levels of nitric oxide cause an increased blood flow that provides body tissues with sufficient amounts of oxygen despite low levels of oxygen in both the air and the bloodstream.”

    Elevated nitric oxide in blood is key to high altitude function for Tibetans
    Case Western Reserve University

    But scientists seem to consider that there is only one element involved in what they are studying, when the effects they see may be a combination of things.

    Harvard and U. Pittsburgh researchers explain carbon monoxide’s anti-inflammatory effects

    “In a study appearing in the April 2007 issue of The FASEB Journal, scientists from Harvard University and the University of Pittsburgh have shown for the first time that the anti-inflammatory effects of carbon monoxide originate within cells’ own molecular engines, mitochondria. Specifically, mitochondria react to low levels of carbon monoxide by releasing chemical signals that reduce or shut down the body’s inflammatory response, raising the possibility for the development of new anti-inflammatory therapies, one of which may be low levels of inhaled carbon monoxide.”

    Surprise benefit from carbon monoxide’

    “Researchers at the University Medical Centre in Groningen, the Netherlands, found that the gas appeared to ease the inflammation of lung tissues when given in low doses over a four-day period.”

    • Frank Davis says:


      Smokers are exposed first to high concentrations of inhaled NO from smoke and, second, to endogenously released NO after uptake of nicotine into the brain. As a result, the basal endogenous NO synthesis in airways and blood vessels of smokers is reduced. Subsequently, because NO is involved in maintaining airway dilatation, smokers may have constricted airways. During smoking, however, NO from smoke may dilate the constricted airways, allowing the smoke an easier passage into the lungs, and exposing the body and the brain to more nicotine.

      Perhaps that explains how smoking mountaineers can breathe: NO dilates airways, allowing more air (and consequently more oxygen) through them.

      It might also explain the apparent low incidence of smokers in the current Covid-19 pandemic. If the effect of Covid-19 is to constrict airways, reducing oxygen uptake, Covid-19 patients would experience oxygen starvation. But patients who smoked would have their airways dilated, allowing them to get more oxygen, and reducing/stopping oxygen starvation. Consequently they would be less likely to seek medical attention than non-smoking Covid-19 patients, because they were able to breathe easier.

      • Rose says:

        Frank, I wouldn’t recommend looking for any accurate information in a study entitled
        “The role of nitric oxide in cigarette smoking and nicotine addiction ”

        Article history
        12 August 2000
        18 June 2001
        01 August 2002

        “A literature search of Medline using the keywords nicotine and nitric oxide covering 1995 to May 2001 was made. Further information not obtained from the Medline search was derived from the references cited in these publications.”

        I’ve read that one before when I was first researching nitric oxide in cigarettes. There were a lot of odd things about at the time, just as TC is currently trying to claim Covid-19 for the cause.

        The Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program, 1999

        Effect of tobacco smoke on nitric oxide synthesis
        Initial Award Abstract

        “Smoking may lead to hypertension and stroke due to the decreased ability for the body to synthesize nitric oxide (NO). NO is a small molecule which has been implicated in a variety of physiological processes. One of its more important functions involves the relaxation of blood vessels.
        NO has been shown to dilate blood vessels and thus, allow more blood to flow.

        The human body takes advantages of this system to regulate the amount of blood flow to various parts of the body by adjusting the amount of NO produced.
        NO is also involved in the thinning of the blood by decreasing the stickiness of blood platelet cells. This process decreases the chance of these cells forming aggregates which may block small arteries and lead to strokes.

        NO is produced in the body by an enzyme called nitric oxide synthase (NOS). NOS produces NO from L-arginine, one of the 20 essential amino acids. When NOS does not function property, hypertension can occur since the blood vessels are more constricted. Also, there is an increased chance of stroke because of these narrow vessels and thickening of the blood.

        It is by this process by which we believe that smoking can cause hypertension and strokes.”

        Award: $70,000
        http://www.trdrp.org/fundedresearch/Vie … nt_id=1550

        You are safest looking at studies that are absolutely nothing to do with smoking to find out what you want to know.

  5. slugbop007 says:

    You should air out your flat immediately. Open all the windows and doors and let all the stale air out. Cooped up indoors, breathing nothing but your own recycled oxygen is not a good idea. I still have a daily, very mild cough. When I get on a city bus I have the urge to cough even more. Maybe it’s the chemical product that our transport company uses to disinfect the buses? 


    • Александра Собина says:

      Oh, yes, you are very right. It did not cross my mind till you told, but it is very possible we may get some kind like Covid symptoms just because some disinfection stuff affects us. So no reason for panic right away.

  6. slugbop007 says:

    Mount Everest here I come!

    Note the difference from Quan and the Chinese study. Quan has nothing but his prejudices to support his unfounded declaration while the Chinese study was a fairly detailed research paper.


  7. slugbop007 says:

    I am beginning to think that this crisis is just a setup for Global Public Health to push through more anti-tobacco/sugar/salt and other lifestyle restrictions.


  8. Ryan S says:

    Or you could go the “5G conspiracy” route where some think it causes the blood to not absorb as much oxygen.

  9. smokingscot says:

    Frank, We’re built to move, not just farting around in a 650 sq ft box. I note you use a walking stick, something that’s associated with back pain – and in my case that was years of desk work and crap posture. Maybe yours. (First thing the neurologist said in February 2019 when he saw me was “get rid of it”). I did and while I still hate kerbs, I’m happy to leave it in the wardrobe.

    Get out the flat, even if it’s just to walk up and down a flight of stairs. But best to amble round your building a couple of times.

    Do bear in mind your diet. Hamburger and pizza is not good because they have fats that are solid at room temperature and one heck of a lot of the taste is salt. If you prefer processed meat, like salami, that can take up to 7 days to pass through your gut. I’m fortunate having a good Indian place that delivers in 30 minutes; maybe you can find one, or an Italian.

    And don’t forget the Aygo; it needs to get hot and the battery needs that boost of 30 minutes at revs over 2k, also the fuel is at least 5% ethanol which separates after quite a short time, so go visit your brother or park or whatever.

    Cerebral exercise is no excuse for the physical.

    Lesson for the day Frank. I’m off to do my 300 mtr loop twice, then up a flight of stairs.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I note you use a walking stick, something that’s associated with back pain – and in my case that was years of desk work and crap posture. Maybe yours.

      Not back pain. Just that for the past 10 years or so I’ve been slowly becoming mor and more unsteady on my feet. It’s a balance problem.

      Do bear in mind your diet. Hamburger and pizza is not good

      Pt’s not my usual diet. It’s just been for the past week.

  10. slugbop007 says:

    VENTILATORS may be causing the lung damage, not the virus.

    That’s funny and not so funny at the same time. I don’t trust any of these people any more because the majority of them have an ideology, an agenda and a narrow-minded way of observing the world and reacting to its problems in a way that might ultimately lead to the wrong choices being made to solve them. That’s scary.  


  11. Александра Собина says:

    One aunt said, the second aunt said … and they made a ban.

  12. Re the Antis and CoVid19: It is likely that things will start to improve soon… at least in terms of any speed of increase. If it does NOT, then I fully expect that the organized Antis, both the extremist nutso types I associate with NZ, AU, etc, and the greedy professional organized types I associate with Glantz, Repace et al, will launch an assault on cigarettes not being an “essential industry,” and calling for cigarette production to be halted “purely on a temporary basis out of consideration of the medical emergency we are currently facing.”

    Of course they will have no intention at ALL of it being “temporary” but will simply use that approach as a wedge to get passage. Once they’ve got it in place the will proceed, just as they have done with every single OTHER concession/compromise they’ve ever been granted, to take that new “reality” as the base and demand that anyone wanting to change that base “to go back to the disaster the world was in when people used to smoke” must be crazy. Meanwhile, even if they DON’T succeed in such a quest, they’ll have all sorts of ammo about “addiction” to use from tales about smokers doing various things to get around the shortage of cigarettes.

    So, yes, I fully expect to see that sort of thing right around the corner if things don’t improve quickly: the Antis are decades’ long experts at leaping upon any vulnerability that presents itself.

    – MJM, who’d enjoy teaching them all about vulnerability…

  13. Walt Cody says:

    An I’m-not-a-doctor diagnosis. You might have (feverless) walking pneumonia which won’t produce a wet cough so you don’t know what’s in your lungs w/o an xray and if it’s bacterial, as opposed to viral, you might need an antibiotic. You might have low blood pressure which could explain why the shortness if breath hits mostly when you first get up and start moving, and could also relate to feeling off balance. You might have low blood sugar or be dehydrated. You might simply be “out of shape” in which case an answer might be to find a beginner’s (ease into it) online exercise program and make yourself do it. Beyond that: a breath test for emphysema and an EKG might not be a bad idea. Then, too, it could, as you suggest, be at least somewhat psychosomatic in that if you consciously or even subconsciously anticipate and worry about it –voila. [End: not-a-doctor mode.]

    About Covid: the pictures of covid- infected lungs show they’re full of pus–an over-reaction of tne immune system. It apparently fills, or in some cases destroys, the alveoli, so of course the person is oxygen deprived. A friend’s friend is in the hospital with it this week and he reports having a tube inserted thru his chest that constantly sucks out white gunk.

    As for smoking (at sea level) the beneficial gasses aside, it regulates one’s breathing–works against tne hyperventilation that’s one cause of shortness of breath.

    q: why does your blog suddenly not recognize me and make me sign in with fb to post?

    • RdM says:

      Walt’s remark, just this phrase above,
      ‘ You might have low blood pressure which could explain why the shortness if breath hits mostly when you first get up and start moving, and could also relate to feeling off balance. “

      reminded me of a well previous comment, here:

      “I think it is a dirty secret that smokers tend to have lower blood pressure than non-smokers” from


      Now, apart from the cliche getting one’s blood pressure up by being angry (is this true?) one might wonder, if it is low, how one would gently encourage it back up?

      Go for walks? What is it, that might that be missing from your life?

      Has The Self Healing Handbook been ofany use as ideas for exercises?
      Breathing? Asthma?

      Exercise to get the old heart pumping a bit again, would that increase BP?

      Serious about overcoming this present condition, where else to look for advice?

      Best wishes for a speedy recovery !! (Or even a slow one!)

    • Rose says:

      Oh crumbs.
      It’s all about ventilators over here with huge pressure on the government to get more.

      It reminds me of another alarming result of following protocol in intensive care.

      Nicotine patches may boost intensive care risk – 2006

      “The team examined the intensive care records of 224 smokers, half of which received NRT, mostly via skin patches.
      Surprisingly, they found that 18 of the patients on NRT died, compared with just three of the smokers that did not receive nicotine. Also, the average duration of an ICU stay for patients given nicotine was 24.4 hours, about 2 hours longer than their cold-turkey counterparts.

      “We have to be aware that we may be doing some harm [by giving patients NRT],” Afessa warns.
      He notes that many of the patients in the study had been admitted to the ICU because they had gone into sepsis due to an infection. Sepsis can cause the body to release myocardial depressant factor, a molecule that reduces the pumping power of the heart.

      Nicotine may further weaken the hearts of these patients by causing the coronary artery feeding the heart, to narrow, he suggests. This would reduce the amount of oxygen being pumped to other organs in the body. Many of the ICU patients in the trial died of multiple organ failure.”

  14. Rose says:

    From before nitric oxide was discovered to be an important part of the immune system and workings of the body.

    Nitric oxide yields of contemporary UK, US and French cigarettes.


    To determine what governs nitric oxide (NO) yields of cigarettes and to obtain a range of yields for contemporary cigarettes 17 UK, 14 US, 8 French and 1 Turkish brand were analysed using a chemiluminescent analyser and standard smoking machine. The country of origin appeared to be the major factor affecting NO yield. US and French brands exceeded UK values by 3-5 fold. Apart from a reduced NO yield in UK ventilated filtered brands, the design of a cigarette and its tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide (CO) yield had little effect on NO yield. It is argued that these international differences in NO yields reflect differences in the nitrate content of tobaccos traditionally used in manufacture in those countries over many years. Despite their probable increased lifetime exposure to NO (and by implication nitrosamine exposure) there appears to be little evidence that US and French smokers are at greater risk of lung disease than their UK counterparts.”

    That abstract mentions nitrosamines which are widely found in nature, particularly in food, but were a big thing with the antis for a long time. It was eventually found to be caused by exposure to combustion gases during curing.

    Nitrosamines and Possible Curing Barn Modifications

    “For decades, nitrosamines have been a focus of considerable research for which references abound in the scientific literature.
    The presence of nitrosamines in cigarette smoke and their possible role in tobacco carcinogenesis were first postulated in the scientific literature in 1962.

    Decades of research have provided no basis for concluding cause and effect relevancy of nitrosamines to chronic disease in smokers, despite implied contentions to the contrary.

    Without such relevancy, the effect of reducing levels of nitrosamines in tobacco or tobacco smoke cannot be definitively asserted.
    However, responsible product stewardship advocates that technologies to reduce nitrosamine levels in tobacco be pursued and implemented as proven effective and commercially practicable.”
    https: //web.archive.org/web/20100610044049/http://commodities.caes.uga.edu/fieldcrops/tobacco/hotline-jan25-2000.html

    “Nitrosamines are formed in flue-cured tobacco when the tobacco is exposed to combustion gases produced during the curing process. Before this year, virtually all the flue-cured tobacco produced in North Carolina was cured in direct-fired curing barns. A burner that burns natural or propane gas is attached to each barn. This burner heats the air in the barn, curing the tobacco.

    Tobacco was not always cured this way in North Carolina. Boyette said that before World War II wood was the preferred fuel for curing barns. A wood fire burned just outside the barn. The heat and combustion gases flowed through a flue, usually made of brick, that snaked across the floor of the barn, then rose up through the barn. Because the gases moved through the flue, the tobacco was never exposed to them. The barns were heated, and the tobacco cured, but the heat was indirect. Presumably, the tobacco from those barns contained low levels of nitrosamines.

    Ironically, this is generally the way tobacco is cured today in other parts of the world, particularly in areas like Brazil and Zimbabwe, whose farmers are major competitors of American tobacco growers. As a result, this foreign tobacco is low-nitrosamine. In other words, low-nitrosamine tobacco is available, so if American growers wish to remain competitive in global markets, they have no choice but to reduce nitrosamine levels

    After World War II, Boyette added, tobacco growers began to switch from wood to fuel oil as a heating source, but they still used flues that carried the combustion gases through the barn. Then, with the energy crisis of the early 1970s, growers began to switch to natural or propane gas, which was more readily available than fuel oil. Because gas burns so cleanly, growers were able to get rid of flues, and began using direct-fired barns. ”

    Needless to say it wasn’t the antis who found what was causing the nitrosamines and it was fixed by the tobacco growers by 2001.

  15. EG says:

    Dear Frank your blog comment section is being overrun by anti-pro russian something. Best wishes. I hope you eat and sleep the best way you can. That’s the best thing to do right now, I think. We can get through the madness.

  16. Pingback: Another Response to Covid Smoker Protection | Frank Davis

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