Hypoxemia and hypoxia is a condition that is characterized by the deficiency of oxygen in the body. Hypoxemia is characterized by the deficiency of oxygen in blood. This develops to hypoxia in the event that oxygen is not transmitted to tissues. Hypoxemia and hypoxia are dangerous conditions that warrant immediate attention, failure to which the chances of the damage of major organs such as the brain and liver escalates. Some of the most common symptoms of hypoxemia and hypoxia are: increased heart rate, coughing, changes in the color of the skin, confusion, shortness of breath, sweating, slow heart rate, wheezing, and sweating. Although the two conditions do not necessarily coexist, Samuel and Franklin (2008) suggest that hypoxemia is the most common cause of hypoxia. According to Carpenito-Moyet (2006), due to the decreased oxygen intake in tissues, hypoxia commonly results in cellular swelling, which leads to tissue injury.
Various symptoms of hypoxemia/hypoxia occur at different stages of the condition. When insufficient oxygenation causes hypoxemia, the early symptoms to look out for are rising systolic blood pressure; arrhythmic pulse; widening pulse pressure; and rapid respirations. Late hypoxemia/hypoxia, on the other hand, is characterized by falling blood pressure, shallow/arrhythmic pulse, widened/narrowed pulse pressure, and slowed/rapid respirations. The effects of insufficient oxygenation on the function of the brain also differ, depending on the stage of hypoxemia/hypoxemia. Early hypoxemia/hypoxia is characterized by headache, confusion, agitation, and irritability. Late hypoxemia/hypoxia leads to seizures and coma and/or swelling of the brain tissue.
Considering the fact that oxygenation depends primarily on the ability by the lungs to pump oxygen to the blood, such physiological reactions like coughing and shortness of breath should be expected when the organ is incapable of delivering this primary function. As such, these symptomatic reactions are to be expected in the early stages of hypoxemia/hypoxia. It has been noted that hypoxia at high elevations is a primary causative agent of High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (Mandel and Taichman, 2006).
The main causes of tissue hypoxia include: hypoxemic hypoxia; stagnant or circulatory hypoxia; anemic hypoxia, histotoxic hypoxia; and oxygen affinity hypoxia. Hypoxemic hypoxia is caused by decreased partial pressure of oxygen, a mismatch of ventilation perfusion in the lungs, and perfusion without gas exchange (Samuel & Franklin, 2008). Stagnant or circulatory hypoxia, on the other hand, is caused by decreased cardiac output, as well as increased nonpulmonary shunting (Samuel & Franklin, 2008). Reduced tissue oxygen, resulting from low hemoglobin, is the main causative factor for anemic hypoxia. In the event that tissues are unable to use oxygen, histostoxic hypoxia results. It is worth noting that this may occur, even in the absence of hypoxemia. Finally, oxygen affinity hypoxia occurs when there is decreased oxygen delivery to the tissues, the result of oxygen dissociation, such as in the event of carbon monoxide poisoning (Samuel & Franklin, 2008).
Augmented hypoxemic ventilatory response is used to treat hypoxemia. It is not uncommon for clinicians to use inhalers to help patients to cope with early hypoxemia/hypoxia. For individuals at high altitudes, augmenting oxygen intake is helpful in avoiding hypoxemia/hypoxia. Considering that different individuals have different hypoxemic ventilatory response, the onset of hypoxemia/hypoxia differs in poorly ventilated conditions. In order to prevent hypoxia/hypoxemia, asthma patients are advised to follow up on their medication strictly. Patients are also advised to eat healthy, to stay active, and to know asthma triggers and ways in which to avoid them (Hypoxia and Hypoxemia).
Carpenito-Moyet, L. J. (Ed.). (2006). Nursing diagnosis: Application to clinical practice. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Hypoxemia and Hypoxia. WebMD. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/asthma/guide/hypoxia-hypoxemia#1
Mandel, J., & Taichman, D. (Eds.). (2006). Pulmonary vascular disease. Elsevier Health Sciences.
Samuel J., Franklin C. (2008) Hypoxemia and Hypoxia. In: Myers J.A., Millikan K.W., Saclarides T.J. (eds) Common Surgical Diseases. Springer, New York, NY