Hypoxemia: What are the causes?

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Hypoxemia: What are the causes?

Question

What causes hypoxemia?

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No state given

Answer

Hypoxemia, or low blood oxygen, isn't a disease but a sign of an underlying problem. It can have many causes, including:

  • High altitudes
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Blood clot in the lungs (pulmonary embolism)
  • Severe pneumonia
  • Fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema)
  • Congenital heart disease  

The main symptom of hypoxemia is shortness of breath. Blood oxygen content can be measured by a blood test or by a pulse oximeter, a small device that's clipped on your finger like a clothespin.

Severe hypoxemia can be life-threatening. Treatment of hypoxemia depends on the underlying cause.

Last Updated: 10/05/2006
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