Are you constantly feeling like you're gasping for air? Do your lungs feel like they are about to burst open? Are your fingers and toes turning blue at the slightest physical activity? Well, don't worry, you might not have turned into a fish yet. Here's all that you need to know about why you might be struggling to take in enough oxygen.
The Basics of Oxygen Intake
First things first, let's refresh our memory on how oxygen intake works. Our body takes in oxygen through the process of breathing. The air we inhale goes down our windpipe and into our lungs where it diffuses with our red blood cells thanks to Hemoglobin (1). These cells then carry the oxygen throughout our bodies delivering it wherever needed.
Our ability to breathe is influenced by several factors including environmental conditions such as high altitudes or pollution as well as internal factors like heart problems or asthma(2) .
Let's dive deeper and understand each factor affecting your oxygen supply!
Factor 1 : Altitude Madness
Altitude sickness isn't just a myth; it’s very real! When we go up higher than 2000 meters above sea level (a.k.a Mount Everest territory), lesser amounts of atmospheric pressure result in fewer molecules of nitrogen, which makes adjusting difficult - this turns every breath challenge (Fun Fact: This condition has actually led some people on top expeditions sans supplemental oxygens towards cannibalism!) (3, see what lack of O₂ can do?)
The low amount of atmospheric pressure causes lower blood-oxygen levels causing symptoms such as dizzinesss, confusion etc because damn didn’t I tell ya - Your arteries ain’t running smooth sailors!!
Therefore keeping oneself well hydrated & Avoiding caffeine before going uphill and whilst climbing one should ascend slowly allowing their body ample time for adjustment to the lower oxygen level there. (4)
Factor 2 : Air-Pollution Blues
In today's world of rapid industrialisation, air pollution has just grown rampant (Thank you brands for choking residents on Carbon Dioxide by your dirty fuel and practices.. a tiny rant). This results in poor air quality making it tough for healthy individuals to take deep breaths often causing breathing difficulties (such as bronchitis) in those more susceptible such as elderly people or small children since their lungs are still developing & Chlorofluorocarbon is kicking off against them - this problem faced only increases with population growth raising serious questions about maintaining sustainable living!
To help ensure enough O₂ - Avoid exercising near heavy traffic areas, reduce one’s carbon footprint by using public transport/ cycling 💪; use respiratory filters/purifiers & last but not least plant indoor plants which aid cleaning the air whilst processing out CO₂ producing ample amount O₂.
Factor 3: Heart Giveth/Loveth Oxygen too
Experiencing shortness of breath followed by fatigue after walking can be an indication of heart problems like arrythmias or valvular disease which may weaken the cardiac muscles improperly distributing oxygen across our bodies(5)! With age these issues become ever so common due to hypertrophy(a fancy word that basically means enlarging), high blood pressure smoking and getting inadequate exercise all putting an immense strain on your body. 🏋️♀️🧘♂️💨 Diagnosis usually involves physical exams/ECGs/cardiac monitoring tests(head ups- regular checkups actually seem cool now!! 😅)
While we’ve covered three primary factors affecting optimal oxgen intake, many other elements too come into play including obesity,disease having spider-man like symptoms cough hypoventilation syndrome,cystic fibrosis pulmonary embolism but there’s no fear, we’ll cover them in a future article!
For now keep breathing deep and exhale away those blues why don’t ya! 🌬️🎉