Though the woman recovered from COVID-19 in 12 days, it cannot be said ascertained that it happened only due to proning.
As the country faces the second wave of the COVID-19 infection, many people are getting infected by the virus. According to Hindustan Times, an 82-year-old Vidya Devi from Alinagar in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, had tested positive for COVID-19 and was facing a drop in her oxygen level. Her family took all the precautions and took medications after consultation with doctors. Her elder son, Hari Mohan Srivastava, monitored her oxygen levels continuously and advised her to sleep in the prone position with her stomach against the bed. It was reported that within four days, her oxygen level rose from 79 to 94. Later, Devi recovered from COVID-19 in 12 days and was declared negative for the SARS-CoV-2 in the RT-PCR test.
Proning is the process of a person lying flat with the chest down and the back facing upwards and having regular alterations in the lying position that is left and right. The medical community has widely accepted the method and has been shown to improve oxygenation in patients, especially those who suffer from acute respiratory disease syndrome (ARDS). In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, this technique has gained more acceptance.
A 2020 study published by The Lancet reveals that the prone position helps in improving oxygen flow in non-intubated COVID-19 patients. It states that prone positioning was feasible and effective in rapidly increasing blood oxygenation in awake patients with COVID-19 related pneumonia requiring oxygen supplementation.
An NCBI study also noted that "several studies show that awake proning improves oxygen saturation in merely five minutes of hospitalization." It also mentions a study done in New York that found self-proning to be effective as breathing cycles started showing improvements after five minutes of assuming a prone position while being awake. It noted that the oxygen saturation raised to 94 percent from 80 percent after five minutes of lying in the prone position.
However, according to a 2002 study published in the European Respiratory Journal, proning is beneficial for patients suffering from low oxygen, but mortality remained high despite hospitalization and mechanical ventilation.
Therefore, though the proning technique helped Devi to improve her breathing comfort and oxygen levels, whether her recovery was only due to proning cannot be ascertained. Many more factors can be linked to an individual's recovery, including immunity power, medications or diet, etc.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19 including symptoms, prevention and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organisation or your national healthcare authority.