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  • Writer's picturePulse Oximeter World

Hypoxia: Types, Symptoms & Treatments

Hypoxia is the lack of oxygen in the blood to maintain physiological function of the tissue cells. Hypoxia can be caused by several factors: from illness to environmental conditions.


man smoking, sickle cell, anemic hypoxia banner

Anemic Hypoxia: Also known as Hypemic Hypoxia, is a condition in which the lungs function properly, however there is a lack of oxygen in the blood. This is due to the insufficient supply of red blood cells to carry oxygen to the tissues. Common causes include iron deficiencies, sickle cell anemia, and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Hypoxic Hypoxia, Woman on mountain top, confined space warning, man holding chest coughing

Hypoxic Hypxia: Also know as Generalized Hypoxia, is a condition in which the arterial pressure or tension of oxygen (paO2) is lower than normal. There are a wide range of conditions that can cause hypoxic hypxia. A lack of oxygen in the air from being at higher altitudes or working in confined spaces. Having pulmonary issues such as emphysema or fibrosis can reduce oxygen transfer in the lungs. Even hyperventilation can cause a short term loss of oxygen to the body.

Histotopix Hypoxia Cocaine, Cyanide, Whiskey

Histotoxic Hypoxia: Is the condition in which the lungs and circular system are functioning properly, however the tissue cells cannot extract or utilize the oxygen from the blood stream. This is caused by outside chemicals introduced into the body that poison or damage tissue cells. Common factors include alcohol and drug abuse. Most people would know this hypoxia from cyanide poisoning. Which inhibits the mitochondria in the cell from utilizing oxygen to produce ATP.

heart attack, man grabbing chest in pain

Stagnant Hypoxia: Also know as Circulatory Hypoxia, is caused by inability of the heart to delivery the blood to the tissues. In this condition the lungs are functioning fine and there is oxygen in the blood. Heart failure, heart disease and heart attacks can slow or stop the circulation of the blood supply.


  • Shortness of breath

  • Confusion

  • Rapid or slow heart rate

  • Wheezing

  • Coughing

  • Bluish skin tone


Increasing the level of oxygen in the blood stream is the focus of treatment. And this involves two steps:

  1. Treating the underlying issues with medications. Generally these medications are administered right into the lungs via inhalers.

  2. Administering oxygen. Depending on the severity of the case, oxygen therapy might be necessary. Requiring portable oxygen for home and travel.

Sources: FAA, Mayo Clinic, Kansas City University, verywellhealth

U.S. Library of Medicine, Cleveland Clinic

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