Oxygen is vital to human existence, yet many of us simply don’t get enough. The very act of breathing transports air via the alveoli in the lungs and into the bloodstream where it’s transported to cells, tissues, and organs throughout the body. Oxygen is essential for converting nutrients into usable energy for brain and muscle function and so much more. If your doctor finds that you lack adequate oxygen in your blood, he or she may prescribe short or long term oxygen therapy to boost oxygen levels in the blood. For instance, oxygen concentrator volume may be increased in the morning, throughout the day, or overnight while sleeping using a portable oxygen concentrator unit, which supplies a concentrated oxygen via a oxygen-rich gas stream.
When oxygen levels in the blood are lacking, hypoxemia occurs, often due to an underlying health issue (i.e., COPD), and the body can experience a domino effect of negative side effects to signal low oxygen. Here are 6 signs your body is lacking oxygen:
1. Headache and mental fog
Lack of oxygen often causes a lack of oxygen in the blood, particularly when headaches are chronic and unexplained. In addition to pounding headaches, low oxygen often leads to dizziness, confusion, and loss of memory and focus. Without adequate oxygen, the blood cannot properly filter out toxins, which leads to widening of the blood vessels and a pounding headache.
Are your tired all the time for no apparent reason? Chronic fatigue (or hypoxemia) often indicates an underlying health condition, such as lack of blood oxygen. This lack of oxygen starts when the lungs can’t deliver enough oxygen to the blood and vital tissues and organs, and often presents as exhausted regardless of quality sleep the night before.
3. Shortness of breath
Chest tightness accompanied by shortness of breath often indicates inadequate oxygen. It may seem ironic that those that need oxygen the most often have breathing difficulties, but this cycle creates the inability to breathe in adequate oxygen, and thus shortness of breath due to low oxygen in the blood…and so forth.
4. Increased heart rate
It seems a bit counterintuitive that lack of oxygen causes anxiety, however, many patients who lack blood oxygen experience accelerated heart rate. This racing heart is often an indication that your body is overworking to take in adequate oxygen. If you’ve never experienced anxiety before (i.e., heart palpitations, panic attacks, shortness of breath) you’re body may be lacking vital oxygen.
Lightheadedness is often an early warning sign when oxygen levels in the blood are low. Patients will often experience sudden dizziness after a bust of physical activity or when standing up quickly from a seated position. This dizziness can be accompanied by spotty vision or tracers. Inadequate oxygen in the blood will often cause this type of dizziness on an ongoing basis.
6. Muscle weakness
Even though muscles may continue to function with inadequate oxygen levels for a short period of time, chronic low oxygen will inevitably lead to muscle weakness—including weakening of the legs, shortness of breath, and decreased muscle strength and stamina.