What Are The Symptoms and Causes of Low Oxygen Levels in The Blood?

low oxygen levels in the blood

5 Most common symptoms and causes of low oxygen levels in the blood

The human body is a complex machine. All body organs need to work in synchronization for the body to function optimally. The human blood carries multiple nutrients and oxygen to all the cells and organs in the body. Oxygen is of utmost importance as it oxidizes food and releases heat and energy which is vital for carrying out day-to-day activities. 

If the oxygen level in the blood drops, it interferes with the normal functioning of the body. This condition is known as hypoxemia. Hypoxemia can be acute or chronic and can lead to multiple medical complications. It can cause mild problems such as breathing issues and headaches or in extreme cases, it can interfere with the functioning of the heart and brain. 

Let us take an in-depth look at the causes, symptoms, and treatment of hypoxemia. 

Causes of Hypoxemia

Hypoxemia can be caused due to the improper functioning of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. The major causes for low blood oxygen levels are: 

  • Defects in the heart leading to reduced ability to pump blood. 
  • Ailments of the respiratory system such as asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia. 
  • Reduction in the levels of atmospheric oxygen especially at higher altitudes. 
  • Pain medicines that interfere with breathing and slow it down. 
  • Sleeping disorders such as sleep apnea. It is characterized by irregular breathing patterns. 
  • Pulmonary fibrosis – this condition is marked by the scarring or inflammation of the lung tissue. 

Symptoms of Hypoxemia

Hypoxemia manifests itself through a wide variety of symptoms, depending on the severity of the condition. The most common symptoms are listed below: 

  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular or fast heartbeat
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Disoriented mind, lack of coordination, and confusion
  • Lips, fingernails, and skin turn bluish-purple in extreme cases.

How Is Hypoxemia Diagnosed?

The signs of hypoxemia are most prominent in the heart and lungs. Doctors run physical examinations on these organs to check for signs of abnormalities. Doctors also examine the color of skin, lips, and fingers to diagnose hypoxemia. 

There are several other authentic ways to diagnose hypoxemia. Doctors conduct the following tests:

  • Pulse oximetry: in this test, a sensor is placed over the finger. It calculates the oxygen level in your blood. This is a non-invasive and painless procedure. Patients who suffer from respiratory ailments are asked to take this test every now and then. 
  • Arterial blood gas test: In this test, some blood is drawn from a prominent artery. The blood sample is analyzed and the levels of dissolved oxygen and carbon dioxide are determined from the blood.  

Oxygen Therapy for Treating Hypoxemia

Hypoxemia is a serious medical condition that requires appropriate treatment. The purpose of the treatment is to improve the levels of oxygen in the blood. For mild cases of hypoxemia, medications are induced in the body through an inhaler. 

  • However, for more serious cases, oxygen therapy is recommended. In this type of treatment, extra oxygen is injected into the body through a cannula tube. The tube is placed at the tip of the nose or injected through a breathing mask. For more urgent action, a tube is injected into the trachea (windpipe). The cannula tube is attached to an oxygen tank through which controlled oxygen is supplied. 

Oxygen therapy is effective in raising oxygen levels quickly and relieving breathing problems. To administer this therapy, it is important to consult an experienced physician. Ucryo & Recovery provides oxygen therapy services in Bartonville, Texas, and nearby areas. For more information, take a look at our website.