Take A Proper Breather

Take A Proper Breather

Take A Proper Breather

The most important thing to human life is oxygen. When oxygen is at a minimal level, it’s only a matter of time before permanent damage is done. That damage can be known as hypoxia.

What is hypoxia?

Hypoxia occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen, severely or subtly. Without oxygen, the brain stops functioning, which can lead to serious, long term aftereffects and even death. Blood flow is vital to carrying oxygen to the brain, so if anything disrupts that flow, it can lead to fatal conditions. Your brain, liver, and other organs are also at risk just moments after hypoxia begins.

Knowing the causes and symptoms of this dangerous condition is crucial to proper response and prevention. Important for both adults and children, this information widens perspective, increases awareness, and enriches one’s journey in health.

Causes of hypoxia

Anything preventing oxygen from reaching your brain can cause hypoxia. Low blood supply, low blood pressure, no blood oxygen, or low blood oxygen fall under this category, as well as asthma attacks, lung disease, heart problems, and anemia. Other oxygen-preventing causes could be smoke inhalation, carbon monoxide poisoning, traveling to high altitudes, heart attack or stroke, certain allergic reactions, hyperventilation, and for small children and babies, unsafe sleeping positions and environments.

Symptoms of hypoxia

If you or someone else is experiencing severe hypoxia, you will feel it, and it will show. Heart rate rapidly increases, as it fights to pump blood to the brain, and catching one’s breath becomes a struggle, even a battle. More subtle symptoms emerge when it’s a less severe case of oxygen deprivation, so this is just as dangerous. It is especially important to know this when it comes to children, who may not be able to recognize their own symptoms.


What to look for:

  • Difficulty speaking
  • Mood/personality changes (confusion about what may be happening)
  • Anything obstructing breathing passages
  • Air or no air in exhale
  • Sweating, wheezing
  • Pupils that are not responding appropriately to light
  • Altered vision, blurred vision
  • Tingles in extremities
  • Fainting or seizures (lightheadedness)
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble focusing
  • Hyperventilation
  • Discoloration in the face, such as blue or white lips, tongue or face


Breathing Lessons

As mentioned, hypoxia occurs when there is an insufficient concentration of oxygen in the blood, preventing tissues from becoming oxygenated properly. So, the best way to promote oxygenation in the tissues is proper breathing biomechanics – I know, scary word, but it’s worth knowing. It means that you must learn to breathe properly.

You’ve heard the saying, “Use your diaphragm,” and there’s a lot of truth to it. Exercising your diaphragm encourages proper breathing, and in turn, a healthier self (and sometimes a better singer). Though it may feel unnatural to intentionally breathe from the diaphragm, it’s important to work out these muscles, just like any other muscle in the body that you are trying to improve and strengthen. 

To practice using your diaphragm:

  1. Lay face up, on a flat, firm surface with both hands resting on the stomach. 
  2. Breathe “up,” making sure the abdomen rises first, then the expansion of the chest follows.
  3. Once you get this down, you can challenge yourself by putting a small book on the abdomen, watching it rise and fall as your inhalation pushes it upward.


Breathing does wonders for more than just helping prevent hypoxia; it benefits those who suffer from other conditions, like insomnia, migraines, and fatigue. Breathing exercises, like the ones listed below, can alleviate the frequency and intensity of hypoxia symptoms.

Proper stimulation of cells via exercise. Moving your joints and limbs provides feedback to the respiratory centers in the brainstem, causing an immediate increase pulmonary ventilation (i.e. breathing). This varies from person to person, so be properly advised on level of exercise.

Laughter. The saying is so common (and true), that I need not even say it. Laughter promotes bronchial stimulation, which is just another way to ensure the health of your breathing.

Meditation, yoga and tai chi. These physical, mental, and spiritual exercises are other methods for partaking in proper breathing biomechanics and oxygenation. They can also help in cases of anxiety, stress, and depression.


Remember: Never underestimate the power of good breathing, and get to know your body and it’s habits in order to better prevent and/or react to troublesome breathing situations in the future.