Hypoxia: signs and causes of lack of oxygen in the body

If you completely cut off oxygen, a person can live no more than 4-5 minutes. But if the amount of oxygen supplied is insufficient, death does not occur instantly – hypoxia kills slowly.

We all got acquainted with the term “hypoxia” during the coronavirus pandemic. This is a decrease in the level of oxygen in the blood. Sometimes this condition becomes critically life-threatening. Hypoxia can be acute or chronic. The lower the level of oxygen in the blood, the more serious the prognosis. Yawning, burning cheeks, and at least ten more signs indicate that there is not enough oxygen in the blood.

How to make up for his lack? Can it be eliminated by inhaling 100% oxygen? All questions, competently and in detail, are answered by the publication “Doctor Peter” Lidia Golubenko, therapist, endoscopist, head of the organizational and methodological office.

Oxygen is a gas delivered to the cells of the body dissolved in the blood, attached to hemoglobin molecules. The brain carefully monitors the concentration of oxygen in the blood – at the slightest deviation, they immediately turn on defense mechanisms against hypoxia.

Since oxygen is a gas, when dissolved in the blood, it forms a certain pressure ranging from 75 to 100 mm Hg. With this amount, it penetrates well into cells and participates in metabolism. If the pressure drops to less than 60 mm Hg, hypoxia occurs. People with this indicator feel bad, they need oxygen therapy. This is the most accurate indicator of hypoxia, but it is quite difficult to measure it – this is done using special devices in clinics.

Low oxygen levels are the main and objective sign of hypoxia. Its delivery to cells and tissues is reduced. To assess the severity of hypoxia, there is a simple criterion – blood oxygen saturation in percentage terms (saturation), determined using pulse oximeter. They can also carry out oxygen concentration control in blood. In healthy people oxygen saturation is 95-99%a decrease in concentration below these indicators can lead to the appearance of signs of hypoxia.

Pulse oximetry is less accurate than blood gas measurement for determining oxygen levels. Therefore, it is important to determine the saturation several times, at short intervals. The measurement can be influenced by certain factors:

  • dirt on the fingers;
  • gel polish for women;
  • dark skin color;
  • bright light;
  • circulatory disorders in the limbs;
  • freezing hands or feet;
  • diabetes.

And yet, the indisputable convenience of pulse oximetry is that it can be carried out anywhere and monitor the state in dynamics. With severe hypoxia, pulse oximetry will accurately determine it.

But how to determine hypoxia without a device, by external signs? A decrease in oxygen levels affects metabolism, can lead to disturbances in certain functions of the body and is manifested by a variety of symptoms:

  • rapid erratic breathing;
  • bouts of dizziness;
  • continuous yawning;
  • headache;
  • pain, tightness in the chest;
  • confusion;
  • increase in pressure;
  • visual disturbances;
  • redness of the face, burning cheeks;
  • violations of coordination;
  • feeling of euphoria;
  • cardiopalmus.

As a rule, hypoxia is not too severe, but it is necessary eliminate its cause, as oxygen starvation may become more pronounced: additional oxygen may be required, and in severe conditions, artificial ventilation of the lungs. Why can hypoxia occur? Among the key reasonsunder the influence of which the level of oxygen in the blood decreases, can be called:

  • insufficient amount of oxygen in the air;
  • rarefied atmosphere;
  • various disorders in the lungs, when oxygen cannot fully penetrate into the blood;
  • circulatory disorders, oxygen cannot be delivered to tissues and cells.

Among the ailments that are usually accompanied by severe hypoxia, we can distinguish: various heart defects, bronchial and cardiac asthma, severe forms of anemia, coronavirus, pulmonary embolism, various forms of pneumonia, pulmonary emphysema, COPD, pneumothorax (air entering the chest, causing the lungs to compress). An overdose of certain drugs can also cause hypoxia.

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