The key difference between asphyxia and hypoxia is that asphyxia involves a low supply of oxygen to the body due to abnormal breathing, while hypoxia involves low levels of oxygen in the body tissues due to underlying illnesses.
Oxygen’s primary function is to provide the human body with energy. Body cells use oxygen to transform nutrients from the digestive process into energy. The cells produce ATP during this process. Low levels of oxygen are responsible for numerous medical conditions. Asphyxia and hypoxia are two medical conditions due to insufficient oxygen supply to the cells and tissues.
What is Asphyxia?
Asphyxia is defined as a medical condition where the human body does not receive enough oxygen in order to carry out its normal functioning. This inadequate delivery of oxygen ultimately leads to an increase in carbon dioxide and hinders the normal activities of the body. Asphyxia causes generalized hypoxia. This primarily affects the tissues and organs.
The causes of asphyxia include airway obstructions due to asthma, laryngospasm or simple blockage from foreign material, being in environments where oxygen is not readily accessible (under the weather, excessive smoke), acute respiratory distress syndrome, carbon monoxide inhalation, contact with chemicals (hydrogen cyanide), drowning, exposure to extremely low pressure, drug overdose, hanging, self-induced hypocapnia, inert gas asphyxiation, congenital central hypoventilation syndrome, respiratory diseases, sleep apnea, seizure, strangling, breaking the windpipe, and prolonged exposure to chlorine gas. Asphyxia symptoms may include shortness of breath, a slow heart rate, hoarseness, a sore throat, confusion, loss of consciousness, nosebleeds, visual changes, and hearing loss.
Moreover, asphyxia can be diagnosed through physical examination, blood tests, head ultrasound (HUS), CT scan, and MRI. Furthermore, asphyxia can be treated through cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and oxygen therapy.
What is Hypoxia?
Hypoxia is a medical condition where the body tissues and organs are not adequately supplied with a sufficient level of oxygen to sustain normal bodily functions. Hypoxia can be caused due to underlying conditions such as anemia, asthma, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congenital heart defects, congestive heart failure, pneumonia, pneumothorax, pulmonary edema, pulmonary embolism, pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary fibrosis, and sleep apnoea. The symptoms of hypoxia may include restlessness, headache, confusion, anxiety, tachycardia, tachypnea, difficulty breathing, slow heart rate, extreme restlessness, and bluish skin (cyanosis).
Moreover, hypoxia can be diagnosed through physical examination, pulse oximetry, arterial blood gas test (ABG), pulmonary function test (PFT), imaging tests (X-ray, CT scan, and V/Q scan), and six-minute walk test (6MWT). Furthermore, the treatment options for hypoxia include inhalation of steroids in order to treat asthma or other lung diseases, diuretics to remove excess fluid from lungs, continuous positive pressure mask (CPAP), BiLevel positive airway pressure (BIPAP), oxygen therapy, and mechanical ventilation.
What are the Similarities Between Asphyxia and Hypoxia?
- Asphyxia and hypoxia are two medical conditions that are due to an insufficient supply of oxygen to cells and tissues.
- Asphyxia causes generalized hypoxia.
- Both conditions can have similar symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, etc.
- Both conditions can be diagnosed through physical examination.
- They can be treated through common methods such as oxygen therapy.
What is the Difference Between Asphyxia and Hypoxia?
Asphyxia is a deficient supply of oxygen to the body that arises due to abnormal breathing, while hypoxia is a condition of low levels of oxygen in the body tissues that arises from underlying illnesses. Thus, this is the key difference between asphyxia and hypoxia. Furthermore, asphyxia is characterized by shortness of breath, a slow heart rate, hoarseness, a sore throat, confusion, loss of consciousness, nosebleeds, visual changes, and hearing loss. On the other hand, hypoxia is characterized by restlessness, headache, confusion, anxiety, tachycardia, tachypnea, difficulty breathing, slow heart rate, extreme restlessness, and bluish skin (cyanosis).
The below infographic presents the differences between asphyxia and hypoxia in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
Summary – Asphyxia vs Hypoxia
Asphyxia and hypoxia are two related conditions that occur due to the inadequate supply of oxygen to the cells and tissues. Asphyxia is defined as a medical condition where the body does not receive enough oxygen due to abnormal breathing. On the other hand, hypoxia is a medical condition where the body tissues and organs are not supplied with an adequate level of oxygen to sustain normal bodily functions due to an underlying illness. So, this is the key difference between asphyxia and hypoxia
1. “Asphyxia: Types and Causes.” WebMD.
2. “Hypoxia: Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment.” Spinal Cord Injury & Brain Injury Resources.
1. “Distribution of causes of death among children under five years and within neonatal period” By GRID-Arendal (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) via Flickr
2. “Illustrations – Hypoxia” By Mayo Clinic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) via Flickr