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What Causes Blue Lips?

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  • Written By: Jae Jones
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 22 July 2014
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The condition of having blue lips is also known by the medical term cyanosis. It appears in tissue around the skin where the oxygen level is low. The condition is seen in people who have high hemoglobin levels. Depending on the pigment of a person’s skin, blue lips might be difficult to detect. Some medical conditions, such as chronic heart problems, will cause a person to have bluish lips. Extreme cold conditions and choking can also cause blue lips as well.

Chronic heart problems are caused by the inability of the heart to pump an efficient amount of blood throughout the body. People who are in heart failure experience symptoms such as coughing, blue lips, leg swelling and shortness of breath. At the first sign of the lips turning blue, one should seek medical help immediately. Chronic heart failure is dangerous and can be fatal. Treatment consist of a healthy lifestyle plan, a decrease in salt intake and stopping smoking, if applicable.

Extreme cold conditions or hypothermia are other causes of blue lips. People who travel to places that are at high altitudes run the risk of experiencing extreme cold and enduring hypothermia. If a person's body temperature falls well below normal body temperatures, his or her body could go into shock. A body temperature of less than 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius) can cause shivering, disorientation and blue lips because of low oxygen levels. The person's body temperature should be brought back to normal as quickly as possible.

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Choking stops normal breathing and causes a person’s oxygen level to drop. During this time, there is not enough air flowing into the lungs. When the person stops breathing from obstruction, the lips and other tissue in the face will turn blue. Immediate medical attention is needed to restore oxygen to the person.

People who have experienced having blue lips know that it can be a frightening ordeal. It is important for one to know his or her health history and follow a healthcare professional's orders when dealing with any condition that reduces the body's oxygen level. Knowing some of the causes of blue lips can help individuals recognize a life-threatening situation and seek the appropriate help.

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