Hypoxaemia: Causes, signs, and how it is treated
A report by the World Health Organization (WHO), titled, “Oxygen therapy for children,” revealed certain concerning statistics. The report said, 5.9 million children die every year with 95% of the occurrences taking place in developing nations. Pneumonia was responsible for the majority of the deaths. Additionally, the report also said that hypoxaemia – meaning, a lack of oxygen in the blood – was one of the major factors which resulted in pneumonia in the children.
A significant 23% of the above 5.9 million deaths, was a result of various neonatal conditions such as low birth weight, and birth asphyxia, procedures which lead to hypoxaemia.
Hypoxaemia is a common outcome of diseases such as low respiratory tract infection, severe form of asthma, sepsis, cardiac arrest, trauma, poisoning of carbon monoxide, perioperative, and obstetric emergencies.
The causality of hypoxaemia in children:
Hypoxaemia is not a surprising symptom in children who have severe lower respiratory tract infections. This can also result in death. In developing nations, the most prevalent types of tract infections are pneumonia and bronchiolitis which lead up to hypoxaemia. WHO reports states that around 14 million children around the world are affected by severe or critical pneumonia which results in approximately 1.86 million hypoxaemic pneumonia cases per year.
Acute asthma, meningitis, and sepsis are also pivotal reasons for hypoxaemia in children. However, occurrences of the same are less frequent as compared to the cases resulting from pneumonia.
There are certain clinical traits which if noticed, the doctor can be assured that the child is suffering from hypoxaemia. Some of the traits are as follows:
- Central Cyanosis: This occurs when the red blood cells in the body are not appropriately filled with oxygen due to which the mucous membranes, and the skin turns blue.
- Coma and long convulsions: Convulsions for more than some minutes, and coma can lead to hypoxaemia in children as these medical conditions are linked with depression of the respiratory drive thus resulting in hypoventilation. Or it might also weaken the airway protection resulting in aspiration.
Oxygen to the rescue:
When children suffer from breathing problems, medical establishments use multiple sources to provide oxygen. Some of the main sources are as follows:
- Oxygen Cylinders: It is an oxygen storage container, where it is kept via pressure in gas cylinders, or in the form of liquid oxygen in cryogenic storage tanks.
- Oxygen Concentrators: The devices take in the air from the surrounding atmosphere withdraws the nitrogen therefore administering pure oxygen when used.
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