Oxygen Deficit

Last Updated: February 11, 2019

Definition - What does Oxygen Deficit mean?

Oxygen deficit exists when the body's consumption of oxygen exceeds its intake. Oxygen deficit can result in low oxygen levels in the blood (hypoxemia) or tissue (hypoxia). A person suffering from oxygen deficit may exhibit symptoms that can include an increased heart rate and rapid breathing. He or she may become confused or be short of breath. Sweating, wheezing, a cough, and bluing skin (cyanosis) are also signs of oxygen deficit.

Because many physical and environmental conditions can trigger oxygen deficit, treatments vary. Medications and respiratory support devices are among the methods used to treat oxygen deficit.

WorkplaceTesting explains Oxygen Deficit

Oxygen deficit occurs naturally during strenuous exercise. When exercise triggers an oxygen deficit, the body will work to replenish oxygen levels during what it known as a recovery period. During the recovery period oxygen consumption increases.

Oxygen deficit may also occur as a result of a physical illness or condition that prevents an individual from absorbing or delivering sufficient oxygen to the body's cells. Pulmonary diseases, asthma, anemia, or cell abnormalities can interfere with the body's ability to intake and distribute oxygen.

Environmental conditions can also trigger instances of oxygen deficiency. For example, an individual may experience the symptoms of altitude sickness when breathing at high altitudes where the ratio of oxygen present in the air is less than normal. Airborne contaminants such as carbon monoxide can also trigger an oxygen deficiency. Personal protective equipment (PPE) may be needed in certain working conditions to protect workers from the risk of incurring an oxygen deficit.

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