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Purple lips

The color and appearance of the lips can say a lot about our state of health, so it is important to pay special attention to them. Under normal conditions they should be reddish in color and slightly moistened. However, there are certain causes that cause purple lips .

It is a change in skin tone due to cyanosis . This is the name given to the blue coloration of the mucous membranes and skin due to insufficient oxygenation of the blood. Thus, in a high percentage of cases, purple lips respond to respiratory or heart diseases.

What is cyanosis?

Cyanosis is the bluish discoloration of the skin due to a lack of oxygen in the blood. Blood cells are responsible for the transport of oxygen. Under normal conditions they are bright red, which is why the skin has a pinkish hue. However, when the blood has lost its oxygen it turns blue, thus giving the skin that dark bluish tone.

Causes of purple lips

The direct cause of the purple coloration of the lips is the lack of oxygen in the blood . This poor oxygenation can be due to different disorders that affect the lungs and / or the heart.

Pulmonary embolism

Pulmonary embolism is a serious disease in which a pulmonary artery is suddenly blocked . It usually occurs when a clot breaks loose and reaches the lungs through the bloodstream. Urgent medical attention is essential to avoid chronic damage to other organs of the body due to insufficient oxygen.

The symptoms of pulmonary embolism are: rapid breathing , chest pain that is worse when coughing, dizziness due to low blood pressure and increased heart rate.


Dyspnea is how it is known to the sensation of shortness of air or the difficulty to breathe normally. Those who suffer from this disorder feel that they are unable to obtain the amount of air they need, as well as a continuous feeling of suffocation.

The causes of dyspnea are very broad, both mild and severe: anxiety and stress , hypoxemia , pneumonia, and a blood clot.

Altitude sickness

Altitude sickness is a relatively common disease among mountaineers and mountaineers. It consists of the body’s inability to adapt to the lack of oxygen typical of high altitudes . It occurs more frequently in people over 50, especially if the ascent is done at high speed.

In general, this disorder appears from 2,500 meters of altitude above sea level. One of the most common symptoms is purple lips, as well as confusion, cough, inattention and concentration, difficulty walking, and inability to breathe normally.


Bronchiolitis is a lung infection that occurs especially in infants and young children . In the vast majority of cases, the cause is a virus that congests the bronchioles. The first symptoms of the disease are very similar to those of a common cold. As the days go by, they get worse: shortness of breath, sharp cough, and wheezing in the chest.

Heart failure

The heart is unable to fulfill its basic function of pumping blood.

Heart failure occurs when there is an imbalance between the body’s needs and the ability of the heart muscle to pump blood. It is one of the most common heart diseases , especially in the elderly.

Two types can be distinguished. On the one hand, chronic heart failure , the symptoms of which manifest gradually. And, on the other hand, the so-called acute heart failure, in which the symptoms appear suddenly and are serious from the first moment.

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In many cases, this disorder occurs in patients who have previously suffered a myocardial infarction or a disease that has affected the heart valves in some way .

Raynaud’s syndrome

Raynaud’s syndrome is a rare disease that affects the blood vessels in the feet and hands . Causes a narrowing of blood vessels in stressful situations or exposure to cold. As the blood cannot reach the surface of the skin, the affected areas turn purple.

Cyanide poisoning

Purple lips can also be due to cyanide poisoning . A poisoning that gives rise to various serious symptoms and requires urgent medical attention.

Vitamin deficiency

The vitamin deficiency is one of the likely causes of purple lips. It is a common complication among people with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. They are disorders that prevent the proper absorption of nutrients.

Cold purple lips

When exposed to low temperatures, the skin appears much paler and the lips are purple. Being in a very cold environment without adequate protection can cause the appearance of the symptoms of hypothermia if the body temperature drops below 35ºC : drowsiness, weakness, purple lips, slow breathing, tremors and loss of coordination.

The hypothermia requires urgent medical attention. The first care should consist of covering the person with blankets and removing wet and cold clothing.

Cyanosis in infants and children


Cyanosis can also occur in babies and children. One of the most common causes is bronchiolitis. This disease is characterized by infection in the bronchioles , and is very common in the smallest. In other cases the cause is more serious, such as cardiovascular problems or suffocation.

It is important that you go to the pediatrician as soon as possible if your child has any of the following symptoms in addition to purple lips: shortness of breath, tiredness for no apparent reason, body flaccidity, fluttering of the nostrils during breathing , irritability and retraction of the chest muscles with each breath.

Purple lips: diagnosis and treatment

The purple lips can be a clear indication of a health disorder of a serious nature. Thus, you should see a doctor immediately if you have any of the following symptoms: rapid breathing, chest pain, disorientation, fatigue, shortness of breath and / or fever .

The most common diagnostic tests include:

  • Arterial blood gas : arterial blood gas is a respiratory monitoring test that allows evaluating different parameters such as the concentration of bicarbonate, the arterial pressure of oxygen and carbon dioxide, and the pH.
  • Pulse Oximetry: This test is used to find out the oxygen saturation in the blood.
  • Chest X-ray: A diagnostic test that takes pictures of the chest, heart, lungs, great arteries, diaphragm, and ribs.
  • Echocardiography: An echocardiogram of the heart is known as echocardiography. The test uses sound waves to create images of the heart.

The treatment of cyanosis depend on what the exact cause. The diseases that can give rise to the purple coloration of the lips are very extensive, so based on the diagnosis the doctor will determine the most appropriate treatment.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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