Is My Blood Oxygen Level Normal?

blood oxygen level

Blood oxygen level, known as blood oxygen saturation, is the amount of oxygen circulating in the blood. Oxygen is essential for our bodies in order to function correctly and create energy to fulfill all processes, such as digestion and even thinking. Low blood oxygen levels or hypoxemia may cause serious complications and damage organs, especially the brain and heart. Also, hypoxemia doesn’t let the lungs and circulation system work properly.

How to test blood oxygen level?

The blood oxygen saturation level can be measured with the help of a pulse oximeter or through a blood draw test. The blood draw test provides more detailed information regarding oxygen levels than the pulse ox.

Arterial blood gas (ABG)

Arterial blood gas (ABG) test is carried out by taking a sample of blood from an artery, usually in the wrist. This procedure is very accurate, but it can be a little painful. This test measures the oxygen and carbon dioxide level in the blood to check the lungs’ work. It also measures the acid-base balance, known as pH balance, in the blood.

Pulse oximetry

This small clip device measures blood oxygen saturation by placing it on the finger. The pulse oximeter readings only indicate blood oxygen (SpO2 level) levels and an individual’s heart rate. It is a quick and noninvasive method for checking blood oxygen levels, which people can use at home.

What is a normal blood oxygen level?

An oxygen saturation level between 95% to 100% is considered normal for healthy individuals. Once the individual experience COPD or other lung diseases, the below oxygen saturation levels (between 88-92 percent) are acceptable. Contact your healthcare provider to discuss details on appropriate oxygen saturation levels for specific medical conditions.

A healthy blood oxygen level varies between 75 and 100 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Individuals with an arterial blood gas (ABG) test below 60 mm Hg require oxygen supplementation.

What does a low blood oxygen level mean?

Low level of oxygen in the blood or hypoxemia is often concerning as it affects body tissue and organs. Various conditions can interfere with your body’s ability to deliver normal oxygen levels to the blood. Some of the most common causes of hypoxemia include:

  • asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, and other lung conditions;
  • heart conditions;
  • lung tissue inflammation;
  • blood clots in the lung;
  • sleep apnea.

A blood oxygen level test alone cannot determine the cause, so see your healthcare provider undergo further testing to determine what is causing your low oxygen levels.

Symptoms of low blood oxygen levels

Symptoms of low blood oxygen levels depend on condition severity and vary from person to person. They include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • headache
  • fast heartbeat ( read here how to monitor heart rhythm at home)
  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • confusion
  • high blood pressure
  • lack of coordination
  • visual disorders
  • sense of euphoria
  • the bluish or red color in the skin, fingernails, or lips.

How to treat low oxygen levels in the blood

Supplemental oxygen is one of the options for low blood oxygen level treatment. Oxygen therapy can be administered in a hospital. Otherwise, the doctor can prescribe home oxygen therapy (HOT).

Some individuals can make lifestyle modifications to reduce the symptoms of low oxygen levels and improve their general health and quality of life. Changes that will likely be beneficial include:

  • quitting smoking
  • avoiding secondhand smoke
  • eating a nutritious diet containing plenty of fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and vegetables
  • exercising regularly

Blood oxygen level refers to the amount of oxygen circulating in the blood. Measuring oxygen levels is possible with a pulse oximeter for at-home use. Several conditions may cause low blood oxygen levels, including anemia, asthma, or COVID-19. In certain situations, an at-home pulse oximeter can be helpful for monitoring the concentration of oxygen.

When you experience symptoms of low blood oxygen levels or have trouble breathing, be sure to see a healthcare provider as soon as possible.

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