Signs and Symptoms of Hypoxemia

Original Editor - Joseph Ayotunde Aderonmu

Top Contributors - Joseph Ayotunde Aderonmu  

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Hypoxemia is defined as an abnormally low partial pressure of oxygen in the blood (normal arterial partial pressure of oxygen: 75 - 100mmHg[1]). It is different from hypoxia, where the tissue oxygen delivery is inadequate to support normal the aerobic metabolism of the tissues[2].

Signs and Symptoms of Hypoxemia[edit | edit source]

The signs and symptoms of hypoxemia may include[2][3]:

  • Decrease in SPO2 (The first and cardinal sign of hypoxemia, SPO2 <90%)
  • Tachypnea
  • Tachycardia
  • Bradycardia
  • Cyanosis
  • Restlessness
  • Altered mental status

Relevance to Physiotherapy[edit | edit source]

Physiotherapists should be aware of the manifestations of hypoxemia which may occur in patients. The causes of hypoxemia may include hypoventilation, ventilation/perfusion mismatch, shunting, diffusion impairment, and low partial pressure of oxygen.[4] The use of supplemental oxygen may be indicated in patients who show signs of hypoxemia at rest, and or with activity, in combination with breathing exercises to optimize oxygen utilization and minimize breathlessness.[5]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Scheufler KM. Tissue oxygenation and capacity to deliver O2 do the two go together?. Transfusion and apheresis science. 2004 Aug 1;31(1):45-54.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Aronson LA. Hypoxemia. InComplications in Anesthesia 2007 Jan 1 (pp. 637-640). WB Saunders.
  3. Harden B, Cross J, Broad MA. Respiratory physiotherapy: An on-call survival guide. Elsevier Health Sciences; 2009.
  4. Sarkar M, Niranjan N, Banyal PK. Mechanisms of hypoxemia. Lung India: official organ of Indian Chest Society. 2017 Jan;34(1):47.
  5. Hillegass E, Fick A, Pawlik A, Crouch R, Perme C, Chandrashekar R, McNamara SB, Cahalin LP. Supplemental oxygen utilization during physical therapy interventions. Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy Journal. 2014 Jun 1;25(2):38-49.