Hypoxia and hypoxemia may be similar sounding terms, but in actuality are two different disorders. A medical condition which features reduced oxygen in the body or in a specific part of the body is called hypoxia, while hypoxemia refers to reduced partial pressure of oxygen in the blood. However, hypoxemia can cause hypoxia and such as condition is called hypoxemic hypoxia. It is generally experienced by individuals with insufficient pulmonary ventilation and during high altitude ascents.
Hypoxia vs Hypoxemia: The symptoms
Usual symptoms of hypoxia include breathlessness, severe headaches, nausea and exhaustion. Lack of oxygen to the brain can lead to unconsciousness, dizziness, confusion, vision impairment, and even coma.
Common symptoms of hypoxemia include anxiety, headaches, breathlessness, and restlessness. In severe instances, it can lead to high blood pressure, or tachycardia. Very rare cases of hypoxemia can result in coma.
Hypoxia vs Hypoxemia: The Causes
Hypoxia can be caused due to many factors. It can be caused due to lowered partial oxygen pressure in the arterial blood. This condition known as hypoxemic hypoxia can result from varied factors such as inadequate pulmonary ventilation, ascension to high altitudes, failure of cardiac mechanism, and sleep apnea. Hypoxia can also be associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, carbon monoxide toxicity, cyanide poisoning, choking, suffocation, ischemic heart disease,asphyxiation resulting from inhalation of smoke, very low blood pressure, deposition of anomalous hemoglobin in blood, and stroke.
Hypoxemia is caused due to decreased partial pressure of oxygen, which in turn can result from low barometric pressure. This is one of the main reasons why individuals experience hypoxemia when climbing mountains, or when ascending to higher altitudes. Other causes of hypoxemia include shunting of blood from the right side to the left side of circulation, alveolar hypoventilation, and impaired diffusion through the blood gas membrane of lungs.
Hypoxia vs Hypoxemia: Treatment
Mild cases of hypoxemia can be treated by lying down so as to increase the supply of oxygen. Hypoxia and extreme instances of hypoxemia are treated with mechanical ventilation.