Oxygen: The Lifesustaining Element and Key to Health
By Kim Jun-su | Medical Today Reporter
Oxygen is a vital element that is essential for sustaining life. When we breathe in oxygen, it is delivered to our cells through a complex network of tiny blood vessels called capillaries. Oxygen plays a crucial role in the production of energy molecules and is involved in various chemical reactions within our cells. It also regulates metabolism and contributes to the fight against pathogens by supplying immune cells with oxygen. The transportation of oxygen throughout the body is facilitated by hemoglobin, a component of red blood cells.
Hemoglobin’s primary function is to bind oxygen within red blood cells. A decrease in hemoglobin levels can lead to a condition known as anemia. Anemia occurs when there is insufficient oxygen supply to the tissues, resulting in tissue hypoxia. While dizziness and pale skin are often associated with anemia, it can cause a wide range of abnormal symptoms when it occurs due to hypoxia. These symptoms include general fatigue, lethargy, reduced exercise capacity, palpitations, chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, and difficulty concentrating.
Unfortunately, mild cases of anemia often go unrecognized. Individuals with mild anemia may not experience significant symptoms but may feel the effects during vigorous exercise or climbing stairs. Regrettably, this type of anemia is often dismissed as mere fatigue instead of being properly identified and treated.
Failure to address anemia in a timely manner can lead to potentially fatal complications. In growing children, it can cause delayed physical development, poor learning, and mental and neurological dysfunction. Pregnant women with anemia are at a higher risk of premature labor and giving birth to low birth weight babies. Furthermore, anemia can place significant stress on the heart, leading to conditions such as angina pectoris or cardiac enlargement.
The primary cause of anemia is a decrease in red blood cell count, which is often due to iron deficiency. Iron is a crucial element in the formation of hemoglobin in red blood cells. Insufficient iron leads to a lack of hemoglobin production, resulting in a decrease in red blood cell production and subsequently anemia. Other causes of anemia include inadequate intake of folic acid and vitamin B, as well as anemia associated with chronic diseases, which is commonly observed in the elderly.
Individuals with higher iron requirements include premature babies, infants, growing children and adolescents, and pregnant women. Rapid weight gain and growth spurts in children and young people increase their iron needs. Failure to adequately supplement iron intake through food can lead to anemia. Iron deficiency can also be caused by various conditions such as stomach ulcers, hemorrhoids, parasitic infections, esophageal varices, chronic gastrointestinal bleeding, recurrent nosebleeds, and excessive menstruation.
Therefore, it is imperative to undergo regular examinations to ensure proper oxygen supply to the body and detect any signs of anemia. As mentioned earlier, a decrease in red blood cell count results in reduced oxygen supply to the body, which can lead to chronic hypoxia and anemia-related symptoms. One way to detect this in advance is through a red blood cell (RBC) test.
The RBC test is typically included in a general blood test. Normal red blood cell counts range from 4.2 to 6.3 million for men and 4 to 5.4 million for women. It is also essential to closely monitor hematocrit levels, which measure the volume occupied by red blood cells in the blood. Hemoglobin levels indicate the amount of oxygen-binding component, while hematocrit reflects the actual amount of red blood cells.
According to Director Jeong Han-sam of Internal Medicine Jeong Han-saem, hematocrit levels of 42-50% for men and 37-47% for women are considered normal. However, if the results indicate a reduced hematocrit, it suggests a form of anemia where red blood cells are being destroyed or their numbers are low. In such cases, additional tests are advised to diagnose specific types of anemia, such as aplastic anemia, hemolytic anemia, or sickle cell anemia.
Regular examinations and early detection of anemia are crucial for maintaining good health. By ensuring adequate oxygen supply and addressing any deficiencies, individuals can avoid the serious complications associated with anemia.
About the Author: Kim Jun-su
Kim Jun-su is a reporter for Medical Today, specializing in medical research and health-related topics. With a passion for providing accurate and informative content, Kim aims to educate readers on various health issues and promote wellness.
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[메디컬투데이=김준수 기자] Oxygen is an essential element to sustain life. Oxygen that enters the body is delivered to cells through capillaries, a network of tiny blood vessels, and plays a role in the production of energy molecules. It also participates in various chemical reactions within cells and regulates metabolism. In addition, oxygen is supplied to immune cells and contributes to fighting pathogens. Hemoglobin, a component of red blood cells, is what carries oxygen throughout the body.
Hemoglobin is responsible for binding oxygen within red blood cells. If the hemoglobin level drops for any reason, you will naturally experience anemia. Anemia is an abnormal condition that occurs when tissue hypoxia occurs when oxygen supply is insufficient.
When you think of anemia, dizziness and pale skin usually come to mind. However, when anemia occurs due to hypoxia, it causes a variety of abnormal symptoms. As the lack of oxygen continues, it is characterized by general fatigue, lethargy, reduced exercise capacity, palpitations, chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, and difficulty concentrating.
The problem is that there are many cases where mild anemia occurs and is not properly recognized. If you have mild anaemia, you may not experience any significant symptoms. However, you may feel the symptoms of anemia in situations such as doing vigorous exercise or climbing stairs. However, it is true that it is rarely recognized as anemia and is dismissed as fatigue.
If this anemia condition is not treated in time, it can lead to fatal complications. Growing children can experience delayed physical development, poor learning, and mental and neurological dysfunction. If you are pregnant, the risk of premature labor and a low birth weight baby increases. In addition, there is a high possibility of experiencing angina pectoris or cardiac enlargement due to the stress on the heart.
The main cause of a decrease in the red blood cell count that causes anemia is iron deficiency. Iron is a key element that forms hemoglobin in red blood cells. If there is a lack of iron, hemoglobin cannot be produced, and without hemoglobin, red blood cells cannot be produced, leading to anaemia. Other causes include insufficient intake of folic acid and insufficient intake of vitamin B. In addition, anemia caused by chronic disease is a common pattern of anemia in the elderly.
▲ Director Jeong Han-saem (Photo = Provided by Jeong Han-saem Internal Medicine)
Premature babies, infants, growing children and adolescents, and pregnant women have higher than normal iron requirements. As children and young people gain weight rapidly and grow taller, their iron requirements also increase. If you don’t supplement it enough through food, anemia is bound to happen. Iron deficiency can occur due to stomach ulcers, hemorrhoids, parasitic infections, esophageal varices, chronic gastrointestinal bleeding, recurrent nosebleeds, and excessive menstruation.
Therefore, through regular examinations, you should carefully check whether oxygen is properly supplied to the body and whether there are any symptoms of anemia. As mentioned earlier, when the red blood cell count decreases, oxygen supply to the body decreases, which can lead to chronic hypoxia and even symptoms such as anemia. To detect this in advance, a red blood cell (RBC) test can be carried out.
The RBC test is included in the general blood test and can be considered normal when the red blood cell count is 4.2 to 6.3 million for men and 4 to 5.4 million for women. In addition, you must closely monitor hematocrit, which refers to the volume occupied by red blood cells in the blood. In other words, hemoglobin refers to the amount of a component that binds and transports oxygen, and hematocrit is a number that measures the amount of red blood cells themselves.
Director Jeong Han-sam of Internal Medicine Jeong Han-saem said, “If the test results show a hematocrit of 42-50% for men and 37-47% for women, it can be considered a normal finding, but if is a diagnosis of a reduced hematocrit is made, it is caused by the red blood cells themselves being destroyed or their number low. “It is very likely to be a form of anaemia,” he said. such as aplastic anaemia, haemolytic anaemia, or sickle cell anaemia, so additional tests are advised.”
Medical Today Reporter Kim Jun-su (email@example.com)
[저작권자ⓒ 메디컬투데이. 무단전재-재배포 금지]
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