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What is Hypoxia?

Hypoxia refers to low oxygen conditions. It is different from hypoxemia, another medical condition where the blood specifically, is deprived of oxygen. Anoxia is an extremely severe form of hypoxia where oxygen is almost absent in the tissues. Lack of oxygen supply to the brain tissues can be fatal and symptoms occur just minutes after inadequate oxygen supply. It is usually irreversible and affects vital organs such as the brain, heart, etc.

Types of Hypoxia

  • Hypoxic Hypoxia: It occurs when the atmospheric oxygen decreases. At high altitude, during drowning, or under certain conditions, when airways get choked and deprived of oxygen, and there’s an inadequate supply of oxygen to the lungs it results in this condition.
  • Anemic Hypoxia: Reduction of the blood’s ability to carry oxygen, usually caused by hemoglobin disorders such as sickle cell anemia.
  • Stagnant Hypoxia: Insufficient flow of blood resulting in oxygen starvation, usually caused by heart diseases or even heart failure.
  • Histotoxic Hypoxia: Inability of tissues and cells to use up oxygen supplied. Typically induced by poisons such as cyanide.
  • Metabolic Hypoxia: Inability to meet oxygen demand-supply due to high metabolic activities

Causes of Hypoxia

It is a condition that may occur due to various causes.

  • Asthma attacks lead to narrowing of the airways.
  • Collapsed lungs, fluid in the lungs, blood clot in an artery in the lungs, or scarred and damaged lungs.
  • Genetic disorders.
  • Congenital heart diseases.
  • Heart ailments.
  • Conditions like anemia, sickle cell anemia, etc.
  • Environmental factors like low oxygen levels in high altitudes.
  • Accidents leading to brain injury and brain hemorrhage.
  • The inability of the tissues to absorb the oxygen supplied.
  • Carbon dioxide build-up due to being enclosed in closed spaces.
  • An insufficient supply of oxygen-rich blood to the brain impairs mental acuity and results in brain damage and disorders.


  • Headache.
  • Cyanosis.
  • Shortening of breath.
  • Feel dizzy.
  • Ambivalence in decision making.
  • Sluggishness.
  • Increased rate of heartbeat and breathing rate.
  • Anxiety.
  • Impaired motor coordination.
  • Impaired visibility.