Hypoxia and hypoxemia refer to two different disorders which are usually used to signify a similar set of symptoms. However, it may be noted that hypoxia and hypoxemia are distinctly different from one another in number of ways.
Hypoxia is a medical disorder caused due to reduced levels if oxygen in the body or a specific area of the body, whereas hypoxemia is a condition characterized by reduced partial pressure of oxygen present in blood. However, the presence of latter of the two can result in development of hypoxia, which is commonly referred to as hypoxemic hypoxia and often experienced by individuals during ascension to high altitudes and insufficient pulmonary ventilation.
Hypoxia vs hypoxemia: symptoms
- The severity level of either mild or severe cases of hypoxemia is dependent on the quantity of air pressure experienced by the patient. Mild cases of hypoxemia may result in disorientation, restlessness, headaches or anxiety.
- Individuals affected by acute forms of hypoxemia may experience apnea, high blood pressure or tachycardia. They may also elicit abnormal contraction of the ventricles or hypotension. In severe cases, the patient may even lapse into a coma.
- Individuals affected by hypoxia, on the hand, suffer from somewhat different symptoms, which include convulsions, extreme headaches and even fatalities in serious cases. Also, the severity levels of the symptoms are dependent on the seriousness of the disorder.
Hypoxia vs hypoxemia: causes
- Hypoxemia is normally caused due to occurrence of respiratory conditions. However, it may also be caused due to the following reasons:
- A reduction in the low inspired oxygen level occurring in the blood
- Hypoventilation that is characterized by reduced oxygen levels in the blood along with excessive levels of carbon dioxide
- Diffusion weakening, or perfusion and ventilation mismatch may also lead to development of hypoxemia
- A left to the right shunt is another potential cause
- On the other hand, hypoxia may result from a number of different causes which include carbon monoxide poisoning, heart attack, or intense headaches. It can also occur due to being at higher altitudes or due to suffocation.
Hypoxia vs hypoxemia: treatment
- Each of the conditions is treated in a different manner.
- Since hypoxia can rapidly progress to a life-threatening condition, it has to be immediately treated. The individual suffering from hypoxia has to put on life support measures, though all medical instruments may not be needed in all cases. Intravenous support is needed, in addition to intake of medications that aid in prevention of high blood pressure and convulsions or seizures
- Individuals affected by mild cases of hypoxemia may be asked to lie flat on the ground to elevate the flow of oxygen. Extreme cases of hypoxemia may require the patient to be put on artificial ventilation such as CPAP. He/she may also be given oxygen at the same time. Packed red blood cells may also be alternatively provided, which can aid the increase in oxygen supply in the blood. However, this treatment procedure does not work in patients with high RBC content or those affected by polycythemia.