What is Hypoxia?

Oxygen that is inhaled and absorbed through respiration is transported to the various cells of the human body by the blood that flows through the body. This oxygen is When there is inadequate oxygen supply the cells, tissues, and body organs start to suffer damages and eventually die. Major organs such as the brain, liver etc. are quick to respond to low oxygen levels and often the damage suffered by them is irreversible.

Hypoxemia is the state in which there is low levels of oxygen in the blood. Hypoxia, on the other hand, refers to low levels of oxygen in the tissue level, also referred to as “Oxygen starvation”. When the Oxygen in the tissues is completely depleted, the state is referred to as Anoxia.

Hypoxia may be localized i.e. specific to a particular area (tissue hypoxia) or may be generalized throughout the body (generalized hypoxia).

Symptoms of Hypoxia

The symptoms of Hypoxia may vary from person to person. Generally speaking, though it is characterised by shortness of breath, rapid breathing, and wheezing. This is also sometimes accompanied by severe coughing. Another important symptom that is easily noticeable is the change in skin colour. Patients tend to turn deep crimson, or purple and even blue when the oxygen at the tissue level starts to fall. Very often a drastic change in heart rate or pulse is also found. This could be an increase or decrease in the pulse rate. Hypoxia is also sometimes accompanied by confusion, lethargy, and profuse sweating. Elevated red blood cell count (polycythemia) is also common in people suffering from chronic hypoxia. It is important to contact the emergency services of a nearby hospital if a person is found to experience symptoms of Hypoxia.

Causes of Hypoxia

There are a number of health conditions that may cause Hypoxia. The most common cause is an asthma attack. The constriction of the airways reduces the availability of oxygen and the tissues are depleted. Other causes for Hypoxia include –

  • Lung diseases including bronchitis, Pneumonia, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) etc.
  • Lung damage due to accident or trauma
  • Acute anaemia
  • Cardiac ailments
  • Sepsis or metabolic infections (which raise the demand for Oxygen in the tissues)
  • Conditions that prevent the use of oxygen by the tissues (despite normal functioning of the respiratory and circulatory systems)
  • Carbon monoxide or drug poisoning

Oxygen Treatment

Oxygen Therapy is the treatment administered to most patients suffering from Hypoxia. This is the administration of oxygen in high or low doses to supplement the oxygen that reaches the tissues in the normal process. Low doses of oxygen are administered in cases where the patient is suffering from diseases such as COPD while higher doses may be required for patient suffering from pneumonia and other acute lung conditions.

Oxygen may be delivered to patients suffering from Hypoxia through oronasal devices including nasal catheters, nasal cannula, or Venturi masks.

The use of oxygen concentrators is gaining popularity. Oxygen concentrators removes other gases from the air we breathe and delivers about 80-90% pure oxygen to the system. It is powered by a battery or may run on electric power.

The use of liquid oxygen and oxygen cylinders to deliver Oxygen Therapy is also very common in India. Just like medical products used for sutures in India products for oxygen therapy can also be purchased online from medical online stores like Smart Medical Buyer.

Oxygen therapy is recommended and monitored by a doctor or a health care professional. It is not advisable for a healthy person to seek this therapy.

Things to Remember

  • Oxygen therapy must be monitored at all times. This is to avoid the risk of hyperoxia, an excess of oxygen in body tissues. The central nervous system, for example, is prone to toxicity when exposed to exposure to high oxygen pressure for a short period.
  • Certain precautions need to be taken while administering Oxygen therapy. The supply of oxygen should be continuous and should not be stopped till the patient has recovered completely. A sudden withdrawal may result in a fall in the alveolar oxygen tension. It is usually recommended that patients buy a simple pulse oximeter online and constantly monitor the efficacy of the Oxygen therapy. The dose of oxygen administered should also be calculated accurately and recommended by a doctor.
  • In cases of drug induced Hypoxia, poisoning, and infections, Oxygen therapy must be complemented by the requisite treatments to resolve the cause for low oxygen supply at tissue level.
  • Some of the common side-effects of oxygen therapy include a bloody nose and skin irritation. Fatigue and headaches are quite commonly observed too.
  • Transtracheal oxygen therapy patients must be monitored for infection, injury to the windpipe and mucus hampering the flow of oxygen from the tube.
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