What does hypoxia mean?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 02, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

What does hypoxia mean? My mother is in the severe late stages of Alzheimer's she was admitted to the hospital late last night w/high fever and found out she has pneumonia, and dr. said she has low oxygen in the blood.

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Hypoxia is a medical term which means there is an inadequate supply of oxygen in the blood to supply the body functions. In other words, he blood fails to deliver oxygen to target tissues due to some kind of medical problem.

Hypoxia can be caused by: 1) Poor ventilation: not breathing well (pneumonia would cause this) 2) Pulmonary embolism or other chronic lung diseases 3) Low oxygen levels in the air (like high altitudes) 4) Anemia, as there is not enough red blood cells to carry oxygen in the body 5) Carbon monoxide poisoning

The symptoms of hypoxia include headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath, a feeling of euphoria and nausea. If hypoxia is severe, changes in levels of consciousness, seizures, coma, and death can occur. Severe hypoxia will also cause skin color changes called cyanosis, where the skin or lips may turn blue.