Are you worried about your Hypoxia?
The heart is a fist sized muscle that pumps blood around the body and beats approximately 70 times per minute. Blood leaves the right side of the heart and travels to the lungs where it picks up a vital supply of oxygen before entering the left side of the heart. From there the oxygenated blood will travel through the bodies arteries until eventually returning the heart to re-oxygenate via the veins. This process is called circulation. Sometimes you may experience problems absorbing enough oxygen into the lungs when you breath due to lung damage caused by something like smoking or in some cases it could be due to lack of oxygen in the environment like travelling at high altitudes where there is naturally less oxygen in the atmosphere. Physical activity like exercising or playing sports could also create a high demand for oxygen in the body putting further strain on the system. Conditions that affect the condition of arteries and lungs will have a significant impact on the body’s ability to circulate blood and may contribute to symptoms related to low blood oxygen counts. Symptoms of low blood oxygen levels in the body are shortness of breath, headache, confusion. You may also become irritable or restless if this happens. Possible conditions that could be indicated by a low blood oxygen level include less serious conditions like anaemia or asthma to more serious or chronic conditions like acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), emphysema, pneumonia, pulmonary oedema (an excess of fluid on the lungs) or embolism (a blood clot in either the artery or the lung) and congenital heart defects.
If you are suffering from a chronic shortness of breath caused by a low blood oxygen count then there are ways for you to try to manage the condition at home. Look at the list below for some helpful advice to relieve your symptoms.
- Avoid smoking, smoking will only exacerbate your problems and could induce a more severe breathlessness. This is particularly important if you have previously been diagnosed with COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- If smoke triggers an attack where you have difficulty breathing, then it is a good idea to avoid places where you may be exposed to passive smoke
- Maintain a healthy and balanced diet, with regular gentle exercise. While this may seem difficult it is important to keep active as this will improve your lung capacity in time
It can be very frightening to experience shortness of breath, whether it is a mild shortness of breath following recent exercise, physical exertion, or when you are at rest. It is important to note that this does not always indicate a serious underlying illness or condition, and, in some cases, it may be possible to improve your symptoms with some basic lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking. In other cases, it could be an indication of an underlying condition that warrants further investigation to determine the exact cause. For example, if you experience problems at night when you are trying to sleep that cause you to wake suddenly suffering from a shortness of breath that may make you feel as if you are choking then this could be a symptom of sleep apnoea and you should consult your doctor to investigate this further. If you experience any of the symptoms in the list below you may be experiencing a medical emergency and you should seek immediate medical assistance.
- If you have a severe shortness of breath that comes suddenly and affects your ability to function normally
- If you are experiencing a severe shortness of breath, especially if you are suffering additional symptoms like fluid retention, fast pulse, or a chesty cough. This could indicate pulmonary oedema, fluid leaking from the blood vessels in your lungs that make it harder for you to breathe.
- ARDS (Acute respiratory distress syndrome)
- Congenital heart defects in children
- Congenital heart disease in adults
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Interstitial lung disease
- Pneumothorax (collapsed lung)
- Pulmonary edema (excess fluid in the lungs)
- Pulmonary embolism (blood clot in an artery in the lung)
- Pulmonary fibrosis (scarred and damaged lungs)
- Sleep apnea