Beware of cyanosis, a condition when the skin is bluish

Cyanosis is a condition when the fingers, nails, and lips appear bluish in color due to a lack of oxygen in the blood. Cyanosis is generally caused by medical conditions, such as heart failure and asthma, or external factors, such as prolonged exposure to water or cold air.

When the amount of oxygen in the blood is very low, the color of the blood will change from bright red to darker. This is what makes the skin and lips look bluish or also known as cyanosis.

Cyanosis can occur in anyone, including newborns. In newborns, cyanosis may be due to congenital heart disease or asphyxia from neck or head injury during labor or meconium aspiration. Hypoxia and Cyanosis | Medicine Video Lectures | Student Online | V-Learning With

Types of Cyanosis

Cyanosis is divided into four types, namely central cyanosis, peripheral cyanosis, mixed cyanosis, and acrocyanosis.

Central cyanosis is usually caused by low oxygen levels or an abnormal amount of protein in the blood. Meanwhile, peripheral cyanosis occurs when the body does not get enough oxygen due to injury or low blood flow.

If central cyanosis and peripheral cyanosis occur simultaneously, the condition is called mixed cyanosis. Meanwhile, acrocyanosis can occur around the hands and feet due to exposure to cold air or water.

Causes of Cyanosis

There are several conditions or diseases that can cause a person to experience cyanosis, including:

1. Exposure to cold temperatures

One of the causes of the body experiencing cyanosis is exposure to cold temperatures that make the body temperature drop or hypothermia. Cold air can make the blood vessels in the body constrict so that oxygen levels flow throughout the body is reduced ( hypoxia ).

2. Disorders of the lungs

When the function or performance of the lungs is problematic, the body will find it difficult to get oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide. This can trigger cyanosis.

There are several problems in the lungs that often cause cyanosis, namely:

1. Asthma
2. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
3. Lung infection or pneumonia
4. Bronchiectasis
5. Acute respiratory distress syndrome ( ARDS )
6. Swelling of the lungs (pulmonary edema)
7. Pneumothorax

3. Disorders of the airway

Cyanosis can also occur when the airway is obstructed or obstructed, for example as a result of choking, choking, or the entry of a foreign object. This condition is often experienced by toddlers and children.

In addition, cyanosis due to airway obstruction can also be caused by infection or a severe allergic reaction ( anaphylaxis ) that causes swelling and narrowing of the airway.

4. Disorders of the heart

In certain cases, changes in skin color to bluish can be caused by problems with the heart. Several types of heart disorders that can cause cyanosis are congenital heart disease, heart attack, and heart failure.

5. Peripheral artery disease

Peripheral artery disease can occur due to blockages in blood vessels caused by thrombosis or blood clots, atheroma, and embolism. This condition can make the blood flow in the legs is not smooth. As a result, oxygen levels in the blood in the legs also decrease, causing cyanosis.

6. Deep vein thrombosis

As with peripheral arterial disease, obstruction of venous flow due to blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can also reduce blood flow.

DVT is more common in the legs, but can also move and cause blockages in other organs or body parts, leading to cyanosis.

7. Lack of hemoglobin

Hemoglobin is a protein contained in the blood and is responsible for carrying oxygen through the blood to all organs of the body. When the amount of hemoglobin is reduced, the body will be deprived of oxygen so it will look pale and bluish.

Lack of hemoglobin levels in the blood can be caused by various things, such as anemia, kidney disease, cancer, impaired liver function, to bleeding in the digestive tract.

8. Methemoglobinemia

Methemoglobinemia is a condition in which hemoglobin continues to carry oxygen, but cannot release it to the organs and tissues of the body effectively. As a result, the oxygen needs of the body’s organs are not fulfilled, causing cyanosis.

In addition to the various conditions and diseases above, cyanosis can also be caused by blood circulation disorders, shock, to the side effects of certain drugs, such as beta blockers and sulfa antibiotics.

How to Diagnose and Treat Cyanosis

Cyanosis can be caused by many things and some of the causes are quite dangerous. Therefore, if you experience signs or symptoms of cyanosis, you should immediately consult a doctor for an examination.

In determining the diagnosis, the doctor will perform a physical examination and supporting examinations in the form of an examination using a pulse oximeter, blood tests, blood gas analysis, echocardiography or ultrasound, and X-rays or CT scans.

Once the cause of cyanosis is known, the doctor can provide appropriate treatment. The following are some treatments that are generally done by doctors to treat cyanosis:

Administration of oxygen

Oxygen therapy to increase oxygen levels in the body is usually done as early as possible, for example in the ER. This therapy can be given through a tube or oxygen mask.

However, if the person with cyanosis cannot breathe or is in a coma, the doctor may provide respiratory support through intubation and the installation of a ventilator.

Administration of drugs

Doctors will also give medicines to treat diseases or medical conditions that cause cyanosis. For example, if cyanosis is caused by asthma, the doctor will prescribe asthma medication in the form of a bronchodilator.

If the cyanosis is caused by pneumonia or an infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Meanwhile, to treat cyanosis caused by swelling of the lungs, doctors can give diuretic drugs to remove excess fluid in the lungs.


Treatment with surgery is usually done in cases of cyanosis caused by congenital heart disease. In addition, the doctor may also perform surgery to remove a foreign object that is blocking the airway, if the foreign object is difficult to remove.

Cyanosis can be a sign of certain medical conditions. Therefore, immediately consult a doctor if you experience symptoms of cyanosis, especially if cyanosis appears suddenly or is accompanied by other complaints, such as shortness of breath, chest pain, fainting, fever, or even seizures.

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