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Side Effect: Low Blood Oxygen Saturation (Hypoxemia)

What is Low Blood Oxygen Saturation (Hypoxemia)?

What does Low Blood Oxygen Saturation (Hypoxemia) look like?

A low blood oxygen level can cause:

In severe cases, it can also lead to cyanosis, a bluish discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes.

Who gets Low Blood Oxygen Saturation (Hypoxemia)?

Low oxygen levels can occur if the lungs can’t take in enough oxygen or if the body can’t get enough oxygen into the bloodstream from the lungs. Patients with lung cancer, tumors near the lung, or patients with anemia (low red blood cell count) are at a higher risk of developing low blood oxygen levels.

How to prevent Low Blood Oxygen Saturation (Hypoxemia)

Preventing low blood oxygen saturation involves managing the underlying causes, such as treating lung cancer or optimizing cancer treatment to reduce its side effects on the respiratory system. Other measures may include smoking cessation, maintaining a healthy weight, and staying active.

How to treat Low Blood Oxygen Saturation (Hypoxemia)

Treatment of low blood oxygen levels depends on the underlying cause and the severity of the condition. In some cases, supplemental oxygen therapy may be necessary to increase the level of oxygen in the blood. Other treatments may include anti-anxiety medications or special breathing exercises.


1) Igarashi H, Fukushi M, Nago N. Oxygen use and survival in patients with advanced cancer and low oxygen saturation in home care: a preliminary retrospective cohort study. BMC Palliat Care 2020;19(1):3.

2) Spiess BD. Oxygen therapeutic agents to target hypoxia in cancer treatment. Curr Opin Pharmacol 2020;53:146-151.

Created: June 7, 2024 Updated: June 7, 2024