One condition you should be mindful of when you are a pilot is hypoxemia and hypoxia. This isn’t something minor like airsickness; it can damage some major organs in your body if you don’t get it treated ASAP. In this post, we will look at what hypoxemia and hypoxia are and how to prevent them.
What is Hypoxemia?
Hypoxemia is caused by having low blood oxygen levels. Whether you have breathing issues or due to another cause such as piloting, hypoxemia can be serious and lead to hypoxia.
What is Hypoxia?
Hypoxia tends to come after hypoxemia. This is a condition that is caused by your body tissue not getting enough oxygen. When this happens, it can lead to brain, lung, and other parts of your body being damaged.
When you have hypoxia, your skin may change color and you may feel disoriented. It can be hard to breathe and you may sweat or feel anxiety. Should you suspect you have hypoxia, it is important for you to seek help ASAP. Hypoxia can have long-lasting effects, and it can be fatal.
If you feel the urge to cough, avoid doing so. This can cause stress on your lungs and lead to damage. It’s important to remain as calm as possible when seeking help for hypoxia.
When you seek help, you will go to the hospital and get your oxygen level checked out. You may have oxygen pumped into you until your levels go back to normal. Sometimes, you may be given an inhaler or another medicine that helps with your oxygen levels. Hypoxia treatments can range from being quick to involving complex machinery, depending on how severe it is.
What Can Cause it?
Hypoxia can happen at any age. In childhood, it could be due to asthma issues. If you have other issues like COPD, bronchitis, pneumonia, and fluid in the lungs, it can lead to hypoxia as well.
Some medications that can make it hard for you to breathe can lead to hypoxia as well. This includes strong painkillers, so talk to your doctor before you have it. Heart issues and anemia can lead to hypoxia as well. While this is very unlikely, being poisoned by cyanide can lead to hypoxia as well.
If you have asthma, it’s important for you to take care of yourself. Eat right, exercise, and avoid anything that triggers it. In addition, it’s important for you to have triggers as well.
Aviation and Hypoxia
When you are a pilot, you are susceptible to hypoxia. The most common form you may encounter is known as altitude hypoxia. This tends to happen because you are flying in an aircraft that is not pressurized.
As you go higher in the air, the air molecules start to spread. This causes the partial pressure to go down. What does this mean? Basically, when you go high enough, it’s difficult for your lungs to transfer oxygen to your body.
If you are flying in an aircraft that is not pressurized, it’s important for you to take precautions and have backup oxygen in case if a pressurized aircraft starts losing pressure. All commercial aircrafts will have supplemental oxygen in case something happens.
Sometimes, you may not experience a reaction. This is due to the fact that there are several factors that will determine how you react. For one thing, it can be due to how fast you ascend and how long you spend in the air. It can be determined by what physical activity you are doing when you’re in the air, as well as the temperature in the air. How fit you are can determine your reaction, too.
Monitoring Your Oxygen Levels
Whether you’re a pilot or you have a condition that makes it possible to be exposed to hypoxia, it’s important to monitor the oxygen in your blood. This can help you figure out whether or not you are at risk, and allow you to get help as soon as possible. There are many different monitoring devices to help measure your levels, from fitness watches to O2 rings.
One O2 ring you should consider is the Wellue O2 ring. This is a ring you put over your finger, and it monitors your oxygen levels up to 16 hours on a single charge.
It is meant to be an overnight tracker, but it can also be worn on a long flight, too. When you are flying, having a ring over your finger can ensure security. Should your oxygen levels drop below a certain level, the ring will alert you through a vibration.
Like any other fitness tracker, you can use an app to keep track of your stats. You can also share your reports with your doctor. With that said, you do not need to have a smartphone to make it work, which is important when you’re high up in the air. It’s affordable, yet is made from tech that will deliver accurate readings every time of day.
Should your levels go down, you will get an alert. You may want to descend and get some oxygen ASAP in that case.
Hypoxia is no joke. Your body needs oxygen to live, and as soon as it’s not getting enough, it can start shutting down. In some cases, not treating hypoxia can lead to various health problems along the way. When you are a pilot or when you have health issues, it’s important to keep track of your blood oxygen levels and don’t hesitate when they drop below a certain level to seek help.
As mentioned, it can happen to airline pilots, but anyone of any career can experience it as well. Before you fly high in the air or before you do anything major while having breathing conditions, get yourself an oxygen monitor. You will be glad that you did whenever you are able to monitor your blood levels and get help as soon as your levels drop.