What is Hypoventilation/Hypoxemia?

This malady is sometimes caused when the airway is narrowed or due to some resistance to airflow. As a result, the lungs function poorly and do not exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide in the required manner. Persons with a lower airway block are more likely to suffer hypoventilation at night. Hypoventilation reduces oxygen levels while sleeping causing heart problems, headaches and impairing daytime functioning.

Other names for this disorder include:

  • Sleep related oxygen desaturation
  • Sleep related hypoxemia
  • Secondary alveolar hypoventilation
  • Nocturnal oxygen desaturation
  • Nocturnal hypoxemia
  • Low nocturnal oxygen saturation


People with the following medical problems have higher chances of suffering from hypoventilation:

  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
  • Emphysema
  • Chronic bronchitis


Smoking cigarettes increases the chances of getting a disorder that narrows the lower airways. Hypoventilation can also affect people with sleep apnea. Other causes include:

  • Pollutants
  • Environmental factors
  • Chemical exposures

Consulting a Sleep Doctor

If you suffer from an an obstructive lung disease, you should see a sleep specialist as this increases the risk of nocturnal hypoventilation. The physician will ask about your medical history, including breathing problems, sleep patterns and sleep struggles.

Tests and Exams

An arterial blood gas exam may be required to check the level of carbon dioxide in your blood. This is because increased carbon dioxide levels while sleeping are a symptom of hypoventilation.


The reason for the airway obstruction needs to be treated to improve breathing patterns. If you also suffer from sleep apnea, then BPAP or CPAP therapy could be prescribed.

1 response to What is Hypoventilation/Hypoxemia?

  1. Hypoxemia is a very serious condition. The details regarding this disorder are detailed perfectly in this post.

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