You might have heard of the term cyanosis. But do you know exactly what it means and when you should seek the help of a doctor or go to the emergency room? This article will help you clearly understand cyanosis, its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment.
What Is Cyanosis?
Peripheral cyanosis or cyanosis is when your feet, toes, hands, or fingers turn a bluish color. This happens due to a lack of oxygen-rich blood in your body. When you have a sufficient amount of blood in your body, your fingers appear normal. However, when there is a lower amount of oxygen in the blood, then the blue color is reflected which can be seen on your skin. Usually, if you massage the areas where you see the blue color appear, helps. Warming can also help make your skin become normal again at times. However, if it doesn’t then it can mean there is something else that might be the reason behind the bluish color.
Symptoms And Causes Of Cyanosis
The symptoms and causes of cyanosis are as follows.
Symptoms of cyanosis
Cyanosis can affect children and adults. Cyanosis symptoms include the fingertips, hands, palms, feet, or toes appearing to be blue in color. These areas get back to normal when you warm the parts that appear bluish. When the area is blue, you can feel the area to be cold as well. While most of the time cyanosis is not life-threatening it can be at times and you can know this by making a note of the symptoms. You should call emergency services or go to an emergency room if you experience any of the following symptoms along with cyanosis.
- You have a headache that is not going away.
- You feel pain in your hands, arms, toes, legs, or fingers.
- You are sweating way more than usual.
- You are unable to get enough oxygen and feel the need to gasp.
- Your hands, arms, toes, legs, or fingers are becoming pale.
- You feel like you are about to faint.
- You feel numbness in your hands, legs, arms, toes, or fingers.
- You are having breathing difficulties.
- You have a high fever.
- You experience chest pain.
Causes of cyanosis
- Cyanosis causes are as follows.
- Wearing clothing or jewelry that is too tight.
- Deep vein thrombosis or DVT is a major cause of cyanosis.
- Septic shock can lead to cyanosis and can cause serious problems.
- Heart failure is one of the common causes.
- Arterial insufficiency can cause peripheral cyanosis.
- Venous insufficiency can cause cyanosis.
- Lymphedema is another major cause that can cause a bluish color to appear.
- Low blood pressure often leads to cyanosis.
- Raynaud’s phenomenon restricts blood flow and can cause cyanosis.
- Hypovolemia can lead to peripheral cyanosis.
How Is Cyanosis Diagnosed?
When the bluish areas do not get back to normal, then it means that you should find out the cause as soon as possible. To diagnose peripheral cyanosis, your doctor will conduct a physical exam, blood tests, and can listen to your lungs and heart. He can take x-rays and CT scans to see if there is something amiss in your heart and lungs. Your doctor can conduct an arterial blood gas test which can help measure oxygen levels, acidity levels, and carbon dioxide levels in your blood. Your doctor might use a non-invasive pulse oximeter which helps to determine the blood oxygenation levels.
Treatment Options Available
There are numerous cyanosis treatment options available and the treatment depends directly on the cause. You need to know that the faster the diagnosis is the better the chances of recovering without any complications from peripheral cyanosis. The aim of the treatment for cyanosis is to ensure oxygen-rich blood is able to reach the areas that are bluish in color. Your doctor might prescribe some medicines that enable you to relax your blood vessels and help your skin appear like it normally looks. These medicines include anti-hypertension drugs, antidepressants, and erectile dysfunction drugs among others.
You might need to avoid certain types of medicines that affect your blood vessels by constricting them when you are getting treated for peripheral cyanosis. For example, birth control pills, beta-blockers, allergy medicines that are pseudoephedrine-based, and migraine medicines may need to be avoided. Sometimes, medicines are not the solution for causes such as Raynaud’s phenomenon. In such cases, your doctor will tell you about how you can make lifestyle changes to treat the problem. For example, you may need to restrict or stop smoking and drinking coffee as these cause blood vessel constriction.
Your doctor will tell you about how you can get treated depending on the cause of peripheral cyanosis. For example, some chronic medical issues can cause cyanosis for which you might need emergency care immediately. You should speak to your doctor the moment you notice the bluish color that is not going away.