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Everything You Need to Know About Hypoxia

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Everything You Need to Know About Hypoxia

Pulmonology | Posted on 08/25/2023 by RBH


Do you often experience shortness of breath? If yes, well, then it can be an indication of a condition called hypoxia. Hypoxia is an illness determined by low oxygen in the bodily tissues. It is a clinical emergency impacting the functioning of your body. Usually, the primary reason behind the condition is that your body is unable to receive a proper oxygen supply to fulfill its requirements. There are different factors from where it stems such as lung illnesses, high altitudes, or underlying medical conditions. It becomes difficult for the body’s cells and tissues to function perfectly. 

It is important to be mindful of hypoxia, its types, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options. In this blog, we will dive deeper into the information about this condition, kindly note that it is all research-based and doesn’t interfere with the doctor’s consultation. You can book your appointment with the best pulmonologist in Jaipur at Rukmani Birla Hospital, which offers the most exceptional care to its patients.

What is Hypoxia?

Hypoxia is a condition in which the bodily tissues don’t receive an adequate amount of oxygen supply. This condition emerges when there is a fall of the partial pressure of oxygen below the levels needed for pepper production of cellular respiration and energy production. The severity of this condition ranges from mild to severe, while its effects differ from the symptoms. If we talk about the response of our body to hypoxia, then it reacts differently and involves adaptive mechanisms like high heart rate, high respiratory rate, and high red blood cell production. All of these mechanisms aim at increased oxygen delivery to tissues. You must know that if hypoxia is left untreated for a long period of time, it can cause tissue harm, weak cognitive function, and systematic issues. Immediate detection and clinical interference are required to manage the symptoms of hypoxia to avert irreparable damage and ensure proper oxygen in the significant tissues. 

What are the types of Hypoxia?

The varied types of hypoxia exhibit a number of things that cannot be in favor of keeping the tissues properly oxygenated. Here are the types of hypoxia:

  • Hypoxic hypoxia: It involves inappropriate flowing of blood to the tissue due to lack of oxygen.
  • Hypemic: In this type, blood cannot carry oxygen in the way it is supposed to and it happens due to inadequate healthy red blood cell numbers. It causes a lack of oxygen supply in the tissues. 
  • Stagnant: It involves improper blood flow that causes a lack of oxygen to the tissues. It might happen in one particular area or throughout the complete body.
  • Histiotoxic: In this type, sufficient oxygen is seized through the lungs and supplied to the tissues, however, the body faces difficulty when using it. 
  • Cytopathic: In this type, because of increased demand for oxygen than usual, tissues cannot use it properly.

What are Hypoxia Symptoms?

The hypoxia symptoms differ from individual to individual. Here are some of the common symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath 
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting 
  • Tingling 
  • Warm sensations in the body 
  • Slurred speech 
  • Fatigue
  • Hot flashes 
  • Poor coordination 
  • Confusion 
  • Changes in vision such as tunnel vision 
  • High blood pressure or increased heart rate 
  • Headache 
  • A sense of well-being

What are the causes of Hypoxia?

Causes of hypoxia differ according to its type and can happen because of some circumstances and due to certain medical conditions. 

Here are the common causes for all the types discussed above:

Hypoxia causes

  • Asthma-a lung condition in which an individual cannot breathe properly
  • Slow breathing or frivolous breathing 
  • In pulmonary edema, the lungs are filled with fluid in this condition 
  • High altitudes and lack of oxygen in the air 
  • Ventilation-perfusion mismatch, which happens when the lungs part gets sufficient oxygen but there is no blood flow, or contrarily 

Hypemic causes

  • Iron deficiency, anemia, and chemotherapy-induced 
  • Poisoning of carbon monoxide 
  • A large amount of bleeding, externally or internally 

Stagnant causes

  • Edema or swelling tissues restrict the oxygen ability in the blood from reaching the tissues 
  • Blood clots restrict the blood flow carrying oxygen 
  • A stroke happens when a blood clot restricts the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain 
  • Shock is a life-threatening condition in which the body experiences an abrupt blood flow drop 

Histiotoxic causes

  • It is caused by cyanide and other poisons 

Cytopathic hypoxia

  • It is caused because of a life-threatening condition named sepsis. In this condition, an infection passes into the bloodstream known as systemic inflammatory response syndrome, elaborating the inflammation throughout the body.

How is Hypoxia Diagnosed?

To confirm hypoxia, there are different tests that might be ordered by a healthcare professional. It will help the doctor to determine why the condition is occurring. Here are the following tests: 

  • An oximetry test is ordered to determine the levels of oxygen in the blood by using a sensor placed on the body. 
  • An arterial blood gas is a blood test ordered as it not only benefits diagnosing hypoxia but also determining the oxygen amount including carbon dioxide in the blood. It also checks for kidney and breathing functions.
  • Imaging tests such as X-ray and computed tomography are ordered as they assist in diagnosing the causes of hypoxia such as infection or lung conditions 
  • A complete blood count test is ordered to identify the causes like anemia and infection signs 
  • Magnetic resonance imaging test is for identifying causes that are related to brain hypoxia such as bleeds, strokes, and tumors. 
  • An echocardiogram is ordered to check the functioning of the heart and the causes of hypoxia linked to it.
  • An electrocardiogram test is recommended for diagnosing the hypoxia causes and determining signs like heart damage or irregular heartbeat

What are the options available for hypoxia treatment?

Hypoxia treatment completely relies on the particular underlying cause. There are different options available to treat hypoxia such as oxygen therapy delivering oxygen to the patient through nose tubes or a mask. In certain cases, there might be a requirement for mechanical ventilation for the proper breathing function of the patient who is not able to take sufficient oxygen. When required, the doctor might involve using the option of medications so that any underlying condition is treated before it’s too late. 


Hypoxia is a perilous condition that can be treated with immediate and right medical interference. If you suffer from any heart or lung illness putting you at risk for hypoxia, make sure to get in touch with your doctor to discuss the signs and symptoms you need to look for and tips for when oxygen levels are low. Hypoxia symptoms differ from individual to individual and severity from mild to serious harm. The treatment for this condition relies on the particular requirement and if there is any underlying condition like heart or lung illness. You can book your appointment with Rukmani Birla Hospital for the treatment of hypoxia. They have integrated a team of experienced and highly skilled professionals who will ensure proper diagnosis and treatment options that are suitable for you.



What is the first sign of hypoxia?

The first signs of hypoxia are shortness of breath, confusion, fainting, dizziness, etc. 

Can hypoxia be cured?

Yes, hypoxia can be cured with on-time treatment. It involves oxygen therapy, medication, and mechanical ventilation 

Does hypoxia cause hypotension?

Yes, hypoxia can cause hypotension although the effects are low.