Hypoxia and its Causes – Respiratory System Example

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"Hypoxia and its Causes" is a brilliant example of a paper on the respiratory system. Johanna Peaks suffers  from low oxygen concentration in her body  (hypoxia)  because of low amounts of oxygen in the air. The concentration of oxygen in the air  usually  reduces  at high altitudes. When there is inadequate oxygen, anaerobic respiration takes place  in the body. As a result, lactic acid accumulates in the muscles leading to muscle cramps  and a reduced body pH.   It is these  muscle  cramps that cause  the hyperactivity in Johanna Peaks’   muscles.   The body  takes several steps to return everything to normal. These include hyperventilation  (profound breaths are taken additionally faster to fill the alveolar)  and  an increased  number of red blood cells  (RBCs).   RBCs  have  hemoglobin,   a compound that  transports oxygen around the body.

An increased number of red blood cells  take  in as much oxygen as required by the body.   The  hyperventilation  provoked by hypoxia  leads to a rise in the pH of  blood in the arteries  (Roades and Bell, 2008).   This rise in pH of arterial blood is measured in terms  of reduced PCO2  and is referred to  as  hypocapnia.   Roades and Bell  suggest that the body uses two mechanisms to achieve the ventilator acclimatization (2008).   The first mechanism involves  chemoreceptors while  the second one involves the renal system.   The chemoreceptor model suggests that the CSF pH becomes alkaline when hypoxia motivates ventilation.   Passage of the bicarbonate ions outside the CSF  restores its pH thereby increasing the blood pH (Roades & Bell, 2008).   It also suggests that throughout hypoxia, carotid bodies raise their sensitivity to arterial oxygen,   raising the blood pH  further.    


The control of ventilation. (2008). In Roades, R. A. & Bell, D. R. (Eds.) Medical physiology: The principles for clinical medicine (pp. 374-390). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
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