What Is Meant By Having Low Oxygen Levels?
Oxygen forms the basic element of life on earth. It is impossible to imagine life without oxygen, but that being said, there are several individuals who have problems with breathing caused by very low levels of oxygen in their body. Our body requires certain amount of oxygen to allow all the organs of the body to function normally. This oxygen is used as a nutrient for cells, tissues and various organs of the body.(1)
There may be many reasons for an individual to have low levels of oxygen in the blood. The medical term for having low levels of oxygen in the blood is Hypoxia/Hypoxemia.(2) This condition may be acute or chronic. Acute cases of low levels of oxygen may occur all of a sudden due to an acute medical condition or it may be chronic occurring over a span of several years due to lung conditions like COPD. This is precisely the reason why people with COPD are routinely prescribed supplemental oxygen as they tend to have low oxygen levels in their body, as their lungs are not strong enough to take in sufficient oxygen.
What is the Impact of Low Levels of Oxygen on our Body?
Low levels of oxygen results in many vital organs of the body not functioning normally, which significantly impacts the quality of life of an individual.(3) Such individuals also tend to have reduced exercise tolerance. Hence if an individual has a condition like COPD, then it is highly recommended to get checked for low levels of oxygen in the body to prevent any serious complications.
The question that arises now is how to tell if the oxygen levels are low, as there have been many cases where people do not even realize that they have low levels of oxygen. This article gives a brief overview of how to tell if the oxygen levels are low.
How Can You Tell If You Have Low Oxygen Levels?
7 Characteristic Features of Low Oxygen Levels:
- The presenting features of an individual with low levels of oxygen are quite variable and depend on the severity of the underlying condition causing low levels of oxygen.
- An individual with low levels of oxygen will be restless most of the time, have an alteration in mentation or confusion and may find tasks difficult to perform. Such individuals also complain of frequent headaches.
- Problem with breathing is one of most common symptom of an individual with low levels of oxygen. At times, low levels of oxygen may also cause an individual to breathe rapidly to consume as much oxygen as possible.
- Individuals with low levels of oxygen also complain of being lightheaded persistently and may even have syncopal spells.
- Coordination problem is yet another presenting feature for individuals with low levels of oxygen.
- Individuals with low levels of oxygen also tend to have persistent high blood pressure and an increased heart rate.
- Cyanosis is yet another feature that is seen in people with low levels of oxygen, especially in the lips and nail beds. Some individuals also complain of vision problems due to low levels of oxygen.
Treatment for Low Oxygen Levels in the Body
If an individual has any of the symptoms mentioned above, then it is recommended that the patient visit the nearest healthcare provider, as supplemental oxygen may be required to maintain adequate oxygen levels in the body.(4) Treatment for low oxygen levels in the body depends on the underlying cause and should be done accordingly.
What Should One Do If Supplemental Oxygen Doesn’t Improve Your Symptoms?
In case where despite oxygen therapy, the levels of oxygen are inadequate, then it is suggested to check the equipment and resolve any issues with it to maintain healthy levels of oxygen or increase the dose of oxygen so as to maintain the required oxygen levels in the body for it to remain healthy.
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