What is hypoxia?

Hypoxia refers to a lack of oxygen supply to the body's tissues.

It occurs when the oxygen supply is too low in relation to cellular needs, which vary from one tissue or organ to another.

For example, the heart consumes more oxygen than a working muscle and much less than the brain.

The term hypoxaemia is used when the amount of oxygen in the blood is lower than normal (98%/99%), while hypoxia refers to a lack of oxygen in the tissues. The two concepts are interdependent, but hypoxia can occur even if there is sufficient oxygen in the blood.

Hypoxia can therefore affect part or all of the body.

Why would I be hypoxic when I'm breathing in enough oxygen?

The air we breathe contains sufficient oxygen. Its level is virtually constant (21%). But once breathed in, it has to travel a complex pathway to the cells.

So it's not the quantity of oxygen breathed in that's the problem, but how well it's used within the body.

Before it can be used, the oxygen has to reach the bottom of the pulmonary alveoli, be captured by the blood and transported throughout the body via the thousands of kilometres of the blood network. It then supplies the tissues, to be absorbed by the cells that need it constantly to produce energy - in other words, to enable cellular respiration.

The only problem is that the route can be strewn with pitfalls, which can accumulate and lead to hypoxia.

Am I affected?

We're all concerned: firstly, because as we age, oxygen uptake slows down. But also because of our lifestyle and because we live in an environment that increases the number of obstacles to the proper use of oxygen.

These obstacles can be found at every stage of oxygen's journey through the body:

- The air does not reach the bottom of the pulmonary alveoli sufficiently, due to infection for example.

- The blood does not contain enough red blood cells to capture oxygen (anaemia)

- The red blood cells are trapped by toxic gases from pollution (in the country as in the city), or from smoking.

- Blocked blood vessels: ageing, injuries, poor metabolism

- The cell is damaged and cellular respiration is poor

The environment, pollution, stress, illness, overindulgence, junk food, etc. are the main factors that contribute to hypoxia.

What are the consequences?

When oxygenation is slowed down on a regular basis, locally or globally, hypoxia creeps in discreetly and becomes chronic.

The first signs may be fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of energy, depression, forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, problems falling asleep, etc.

Hypoxia becomes both the cause and consequence of a poor metabolism, which then leads to organ dysfunction.

Hypoxia is harmful to the body, particularly the liver, the heart and above all the brain, which has high energy requirements (20% of the body's total energy requirements at rest).

It can encourage the onset of diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases and inflammatory and degenerative pathologies in general.

But without going that far, to live well and combat the stresses of modern life, it is important for everyone to maintain or restore good cellular oxygenation.

Would you like to find out more?