Hypoxia — is a technical term for a lack of oxygen. It can have both positive and negative effects on the body. It depends on its duration, i.e. the period of oxygen deficiency.
Contrary to popular belief, a lack of oxygen in our daily lives is quite common, whether during physical activity or even while we sleep. In most cases, it is a natural short-term phenomenon that is not harmful to our health.
On the contrary, with mild hypoxia, the body immediately reacts to the first signs of deficiency: our breathing speeds up and our heart rate increases in order to keep the organs supplied with oxygen as long as possible.
The body sees the lack of O2 as an opportunity to improve its performance and prepare for future stresses. However, in extreme cases, when hypoxia is excessive, it can be dangerous and even fatal.
Oxygen saturation as an indicator of hypoxia
Blood oxygen saturation can be measured painlessly with a pulse oximeter: a simple device that does not require blood sampling, it is simply put on the patient's finger. The normal range is 96-98%, but during vigorous physical activity the level can drop to 93%, but at this value you will not last more than a minute.
With hypoxic training, a much lower index can be achieved without much effort for the patients. When blood oxygen saturation drops to 90–80% it is still in the safe range, and hypoxia is beneficial for all body systems. This low level of oxygen saturation allows the positive effects of hypoxia on the body to be used more effectively.
How quickly does the body respond to hypoxia?
The rate at which the body reacts to hypoxia varies greatly from person to person; no doctor knows in advance how long it will take. Some people cope better than others with changes in atmospheric conditions.
Therefore, before starting hypoxic training, it is important to perform an appropriate test, a hypotest. It will help to determine both the most useful and the most harmful degree of oxygen reduction for the health of a particular patient.
Controlled and uncontrolled hypoxia
Hypoxic training involves creating a controlled lack of oxygen. The duration of the exercise and the degree of hypoxia are adjusted according to the individual patient's needs in order to achieve a positive effect on the body. By intentionally exposing yourself to a controlled level of oxygen deficiency, you can teach your body to respond better to changing atmospheric conditions;
Uncontrolled hypoxia, such as hypoxia during sleep apnea, can be harmful to the body; if this syndrome occurs, it is important to seek treatment from a doctor;