Sleep-related Hypoxemia

Last updated: May 20, 2019

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The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Read our full medical disclaimer.

Sleep-related hypoxemia is a type of sleep-related breathing disorder. Its main characteristic is an abnormally low oxygen level in the blood. This disorder is also referred to as sleep-related hypoxia or nocturnal hypoxemia.

Hypoxemia is dangerous and can cause hypoxia. This happens when blood is unable to carry enough oxygen to the tissues to meet the needs of the body. Hypoxia is a condition characterized by low levels of oxygen in the tissues. Hypoxia is sometimes used to describe both disorders.

What are the symptoms of sleep-related hypoxemia?

The symptoms of this disorder may vary from person to person. The most common symptoms of sleep-related hypoxemia include:

  • Coughs
  • Confusion
  • Changes in the color of the skin
  • Slow heart rate
  • Fast heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • In children, mouth breathing or drooling

What causes this disorder?

This sleep-related disorder is often caused by a sleep-related breathing disorder. When a person has breathing problems they can lead to reduced oxygen in the blood. An example of a breathing-related sleep disorder that can lead to hypoxemia is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). When a person has OSA, he experiences periodic cessation of breathing. This means that while the person is sleeping, he is not getting the amount of oxygen that his body needs.

Sleep-related hypoxemia can also be caused by health conditions that affect the lungs. A person afflicted with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), lung cancer, asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis have an increased risk of getting hypoxemia.

What is the treatment for this disorder?

The treatment for this disorder is focused on treating the disorder that causes a reduction in blood oxygen. In cases wherein the source of hypoxemia is a sleep-related breathing disorder like Sleep Apnea, the usual course of action is the use of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Therapy. Surgical procedures can also help correct the breathing disorder by removing the tissue that’s blocking the airway.

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Extreme cases may require the use of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.

The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Read our full medical disclaimer.

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