Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

What Does Low Blood Oxygen Levels Mean?

In order for the body to function normally, it requires ample amount of oxygen. This oxygen is supplied from the lungs where the oxygen from the air goes during the process of breathing from where it mixes with the blood stream and travels throughout the body supplying oxygen to vital organs of the body for them to carry out their functions.

What happens sometimes is the body is not able to take in enough oxygen from the air and as a result the oxygen levels in the blood become low. As a result of this, the important organs in the body are not able to get enough oxygen for them to function causing them to malfunction. This may lead to certain serious medical conditions like hypoxia or hypoxemia. If there are decreased levels of oxygen in organs like the brain and liver then the damage done to these organs is almost immediate and may cause potentially life threatening symptoms.

The presenting features to suggest that there are low levels of oxygen in the blood are skin discoloration which becomes usually cyanotic or bluish due to lack of oxygen. Additionally, the affected individual will exhibit symptoms of confusion, tachycardia, rapid breathing along with problems with breathing, increased sweating all indicating that the individual has low levels of oxygen in the blood. This article gives an insight into the various causes for low levels of oxygen in the blood.

What Causes Blood Oxygen Levels To Be Low?

Adults and children with Asthma are prone to low levels of oxygen in the blood. An asthma attack can result in narrowing of the airways resulting in less air being drawn into the lungs from the air resulting in less oxygen levels in the blood.

Another cause for low levels of oxygen in blood is a trauma or injury to the lungs. This decreases the ability of the lungs to take in enough oxygen required by the body resulting in low levels of oxygen in the blood. Certain medical conditions like COPD, pneumonia, emphysema, bronchitis and pulmonary edema are also known to cause low levels of oxygen in the blood.

Taking extremely strong pain medications can also result in the levels of oxygen in blood to decrease. Cardiac issues also result in decreased levels of oxygen in the blood.
Anemia is a condition in which there is decreased production of red blood cells. Red blood cells in the blood are responsible for carrying oxygen to the body. If the number of red blood cells is low then obviously the levels of oxygen in the blood will be decreased.

In conclusion, having low levels of oxygen in the blood can be a serious condition which may predispose an individual to life threatening complications. It can damage vital organs of the body like the brain, liver, and kidney. There can be many reasons for the oxygen levels in the blood to be low. It can arise from an injury to the lungs.

Low blood oxygen levels can also arise from certain medical conditions like asthma attack, anemia, pulmonary edema and bronchitis. However, this is a condition that can be prevented, especially in cases where an individual has a known diagnosis of conditions like COPD and asthma. Precautionary measures taken in such instances can prevent the oxygen levels in the body to become dangerously low.

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: February 22, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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