Signs of Poor Oxygen Supply

If you experience a poor supply of oxygen to your body--a medical condition referred to as hypoxia--you may develop lasting damage to the tissues of your body or brain. Poor oxygen supply is of crucial concern to pilots, hikers and other people who are frequently exposed to high altitudes. Smoking, coffee, alcohol and certain medication may influence how your body responds to a poor supply of oxygen.

Cognitive Symptoms

Individuals who have a poor supply of oxygen to their body many develop a number of symptoms that affect cognitive function. According to the Alaska Air Medical Escort Training Manual, individuals who are exposed to prolonged periods of low oxygen may exhibit poor coordination or judgment or may have difficulty completing simple tasks. Certain people who have a poor supply of oxygen to the body may experience a euphoric sensation, while other may appear agitated or aggressive. Visual symptoms, including diminished vision or tunnel vision, may occur if your body has a low supply of oxygen. If you develop any of these cognitive symptoms while in areas of low oxygen, seek emergency medical care.

Respiratory Symptoms

According to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, individuals who do not have access to enough oxygen may exhibit a number of symptoms related to respiratory function. Certain people may find that their breathing rate increases. This condition may cause some people to experience shortness of breath or air hunger, according to the Alaska Medical Escort Training Manual. Such respiratory symptoms may also lead to additional problems, including headache, drowsiness, lightheadedness, dizziness or fainting. In extreme cases, people may lose consciousness, convulse and stop breathing. Such severe symptoms may lead to death in certain cases. If you develop any of these respiratory symptoms during exposure to low levels of oxygen, seek immediate medical care.

Skin or Limb Symptoms

If you have poor oxygen supply to your body, you may develop a number of symptoms that affect your limbs or skin. Cyanosis--a medical condition in which the skin turns a bluish color--may develop in certain people due to decreased oxygen levels in the blood. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration notes that you may develop a tingling or warming sensation throughout your body. You may also experience numbness or hot or cold flashes if you have a low supply of oxygen to your body. If you exhibit any of these skin or limb symptoms while in areas of low oxygen, it is important that you seek emergency medical care as soon as possible.

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