Hypoxia: 5 Symptoms of Low Blood Oxygen

Hypoxemia occurs when a person experiences lower-than-normal oxygen levels in the blood, specifically in the arteries. According to WebMD, this can lead to what’s known as hypoxia, “when your blood doesn’t carry enough oxygen to your tissues to meet your body’s needs,” although hypoxia is often used to describe both conditions.

This can occur suddenly as a result of taking certain medications or having an asthma attack, or develop over time due to heart problems or lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) and emphysema. Although symptoms of hypoxia often vary from person to person, the following are the five most common ones to be aware of.

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1. Skin Color Changes

As red blood cells are what carry oxygen to the body’s tissues, an insufficient amount of them can cause the skin to change color. Known as cyanosis, the skin will typically appear a dark bluish-red, and is most noticeable if oxygen levels drops dramatically.

For those with darker skin colors, MedlinePlus says cyanosis “may be easier to see in the mucous membranes (lips, gums, around the eyes) and nails.”

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