Hypoxemia – What it is, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments that we cannot ignore. In addition, hypoxemia is a lower than normal level of oxygen in the blood, specifically in the arteries. Hypoxemia is a sign of a problem related to breathing or circulation and can result in a number of symptoms, such as shortness of breath.
Hypoxemia is determined by measuring the level of oxygen in a sample of blood taken from an artery (arterial blood gas). It can also be estimated by measuring the oxygen saturation of your blood using a pulse oximeter, a small device that you hold on to your finger.
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Normal arterial oxygen is approximately 75 to 100 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Values below 60 mm Hg usually indicate the need for supplemental oxygen.
Normal pulse oximeter readings usually range from 95 to 100 percent. Values below 90% are considered low. Several factors are needed to continually supply the cells and tissues in your body with oxygen.
- There must be enough oxygen in the air you are breathing;
- The lungs must be able to inhale air containing oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide;
- Your bloodstream must be able to circulate blood to your lungs, pick up oxygen and transport it throughout your body;
Causes of Hypoxemia: A severe asthma attack, or flare, can cause hypoxia in both adults and children. During an attack, your airways narrow, making it difficult for air to get into your lungs. Coughing to clear your lungs uses even more oxygen and can make symptoms worse.
- Hypoxia can also result from lung damage from trauma;
- Other things that can cause hypoxia include;
- Lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, bronchitis, pneumonia, and pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs);
- Strong pain medications and other drugs that stop breathing;
- heart problems ;
- Anemia (a reduced number of red blood cells, which carry oxygen);
- Cyanide poisoning (cyanide is a chemical used to make plastics and other products);
A problem with any of these factors e.g. high altitude, asthma or heart disease can result in hypoxemia , particularly in more extreme conditions such as exercise or illness. When your blood oxygen drops below a certain level, you may experience shortness of breath, headache, and confusion or agitation.
Symptoms of Hypoxemia, although they can vary from person to person, the most common symptoms of hypoxia are:
- Changes in your skin color, ranging from blue to cherry red;
- Fast heart rate ;
- Rapid breathing;
- Shortness of breath ;
- If you have symptoms of hypoxemia;
Hypoxemia Treatment: You will need to go to the hospital to get treatment for hypoxia and to keep a check on your oxygen level. The most important thing is to get more oxygen into your body.
You will receive it through a small plug in your nose or through a mask that covers your nose and mouth. For many people, this is enough to bring their oxygen level back to normal.
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An inhaler or oral asthma medication can make breathing easier. If that doesn’t help, the doctor may try to give you medicine through a vein in your arm (an IV). You may also need steroid medication for a short time to shrink the inflammation in your lungs.