NCLEX RN Practice Question # 556

NCLEX Examination.

Practice Question # 556.




Potentially Harmful Effects of Hypoxemia


Severe hypoxemia can result in cellular hypoxia, organ dysfunction, and death. The degree of organ dysfunction is determined by the rapidity of onset, severity, and duration of hypoxemia and individual susceptibility. An extreme example of ischemia-hypoxia tolerance is iatrogenically induced hypothermic circulatory arrest during cardiothoracic surgery.

Sudden exposure to severe atmospheric hypoxia will cause rapid unconsciousness secondary to cerebral hypoxia,[74] while gradual acclimatization to a comparable level of hypoxia can be well tolerated.[75] In a report detailing 22 clinical cases of profound hypoxemia (PaO2 < 20.3 mm Hg [2.7 kPa]), 13 of the patients survived, ten of whom were seemingly unaffected by the event.[76] The lowest reported PaO2 was 7.5 mm Hg (1.0 kPa), in a 20-yr-old male patient breathing room air following a heroin overdose yet he made an unremarkable recovery.[76]


Symptoms of Hypoxia

Although they can vary from person to person, the most common hypoxia symptoms are:

  • Changes in the color of your skin, ranging from blue to cherry red
  • Confusion
  • Cough
  • Fast heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Wheezing



A deficit of carbonic acid and a decrease in hydrogen ion concentration that results from the accumulation of base or from a loss of acid without a comparable loss of base in the body fluids.


  • Respiratory alkalosis results from conditions that cause overstimulation of the respiratory system.
  • Fever: Causes increased metabolism, resulting in overstimulation of the respiratory system.
  • Hyperventilation: Rapid respirations cause the blowing off of CO2, leading to a decrease in carbonic acid.
  • Hypoxia: Stimulates the respiratory center in the brainstem, which causes an increase in the respiratory rate in order to increase oxygen; this causes hyperventilation, which results in a decrease in the CO2 level.
  • Hysteria: Hysteria often is neurogenic and related to a psychoneurosis; however, this condition leads to vigorous breathing and excessive exhaling of CO2.
  • Overventilation by mechanical ventilators: The administration of O2 and the depletion of CO2 can occur from mechanical ventilation, causing the client to be hyperventilated.
  • Pain: Overstimulation of the respiratory center in the brainstem results in a carbonic acid deficit.

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