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There are two types of hypoxemia. Acute hypoxemia occurs over a relatively short period of time. Chronic hypoxemia is ongoing over a longer period of time. The symptoms of acute hypoxemia can be different than the symptoms of chronic hypoxemia. The most common symptoms of acute hypoxemia are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Cough
  • Confusion
  • Fast heart rate
  • Changes in skin color

Symptoms of chronic hypoxemia may be more difficult to detect. This is because sometimes the body is able to compensate for the decreased oxygen in the bloodstream. Symptoms of chronic hypoxemia include:

  • Pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the blood vessels in and around the lungs)
  • Cor pulmonale (heart disease that involves enlargement and failure of the right ventricle of the heart)
  • Right-sided heart failure
  • Polycythemia (increased proportion of red blood cells in the blood)