Your blood oxygen level is the measure of the amount of oxygen that your red blood cells are carrying.
Your body closely regulates the blood oxygen level.
It helps to maintain the precise level or balance of oxygen saturation in your blood.
This is vital and important for your health.
The blood is responsible for carrying oxygen to all of your cells.
When you breathe and draw fresh oxygen into your lungs, red blood cells bind with the oxygen.
It then carries it through your bloodstream.
On a cellular level, the oxygen helps to replace cells that wear out, supplies you with energy, supports your immune system, and more.
This is why it is important to make sure that your blood oxygen levels are either not too high or loo low.
Let’s learn more about it in detail.
Measuring Blood Oxygen Level
To measure your blood oxygen level, or oxygen saturation, you can use a pulse oximeter.
It is a small device that clips to your fingers or another part of your body.
This device helps to determine the ratio of red blood cells that are carrying oxygen to those that are empty.
Moreover, measuring your blood oxygen levels is non-invasive and does not hurt.
There are no known dangers or risks of using this device to measure it.
A pulse oximeter emits light that passes through your fingernail, skin, tissue, and blood to the sensor on the other side.
The device measure how much light passes through without being absorbed into the tissue and blood.
It then uses that measurement to calculate how much oxygen is there in your bloodstream.
Arterial Blood Gas
An arterial blood gas, ABG test is a blood test that helps to measure blood oxygen levels.
It can also determine the level of other gases in your blood as well as the pH i.e. acid/base level.
An ABG test is an accurate test, however, it is invasive.
To get an ABG measurement, your doctor will draw blood from an artery rather than a vein.
Unlike veins, arteries have a pulse that you can feel.
Additionally, the blood your doctor will draw from arteries is also oxygenated. However, the blood in your veins is not.
For this test, your doctor or lab technician will draw the blood from the artery in your wrist.
It can make drawing the blood more uncomfortable than drawing blood to a vein near your elbow.
Arteries are also deeper than veins, thus, adding more to the discomfort.
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Where does your Blood Oxygen Level should Falls?
A measurement of your blood oxygen is also known as Oxygen Saturation Level.
In medical terms, you may have heart there term PO2 when using a blood gas and an O2 sat or SpO2 when using a pulse ox.
These guidelines can help you understand what your results might mean:
A normal ABG oxygen level for healthy lungs falls between the range of 80 and 200 millimeters of mercury, mm Hg.
If a pulse oxygen level SpO2 reads a reading between 95 and 100%, it is normal.
However, in the case of COPD, or other lung diseases, these ranges may not apply.
Your doctor will let you know the normal range for your specific condition.
For instance, it is not uncommon for people with severe COPD to maintain their pulse ox levels or SpO2 between 88 to 92%.
If the blood oxygen level is below normal, it is termed Hypoxemia.
It is often a cause for concern,
The lower the oxygen level, the more serve the condition. It can, thus, lead to complications in the body tissue and organs.
In normal cases, a PaO2 reading below 80 mmHg or a pulse ox or SpO2 reading below 95% is considered low.
This, it is important to know what is the normal range for your condition, especially if you have a chronic lung condition.
If your breathing is normal or unassisted, it is often difficult for your oxygen levels to be too high.
Moreover, high oxygen levels occur in individuals who use supplemental oxygen.
This you can determine with the help of an ABG Test.
Blood Oxygen Level too Low
When your blood oxygen level goes outside the usual range, you may experience certain symptoms.
These symptoms are as follows:
Shortness of breath, chest pain, confusion, headache, and rapid heartbeat.
Thus, if you continue to have low oxygen levels, you may experience symptoms of cyanosis.
One of the major signs of this condition is a blue discoloration of your nail beds, skin, and mucus membranes.
Moreover, it is important to understand that cyanosis is a medical emergency.
If you are experiencing symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately.
It can lead to respiratory failure which is a life-threatening condition.
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Causes of Low Blood Oxygen Levels
There are certain conditions that can negatively affect your blood oxygen levels.
These are as follows:
COPD, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and asthma.
Other medical conditions like a collapsed lung, anemia, congenital heart defects, heart diseases, and pulmonary embolism can also affect your blood oxygen levels.
It is important to note that these medical conditions can prevent your lungs from inhaling an adequate amount of oxygen-containing air.
Moreover, it can also hinder your ability to exhale enough carbon dioxide.
In the same way, blood disorders and problems with your circulatory system can also prevent your blood from absorbing enough oxygen.
It can also prevent it from transporting it throughout your body.
Any of the above problems or disorders can lead to declining oxygen saturation levels.
As it falls, you may begin to experience the symptoms of Hypoxemia.
Moreover, if you smoke, it can cause an inaccurately high pulse ox reading.
Smoking causes carbon monoxide to build up in your blood.
A pulse ox cannot tell the difference between this other type of gas and oxygen.
Thus, if you know and need to know your oxygen level, an ABG test can help.
This can be the only way to receive an accurate reading of your blood oxygen levels.
Breathing Exercises to Increase your Blood Oxygen Levels
Pulmonary rehabilitation is an important step for you if you are suffering from lung diseases or other conditions that affect your lung functions.
Respiratory therapists frequently teach their patients some specialized breathing techniques.
This can help elevate some of the symptoms that are associated with asthma, high blood pressure, shortness of breath, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and sleep apnea.
If you practice them regularly, it can help get rid of the lungs of accumulated stale air, thus, increasing the blood oxygen levels.
Moreover, they can help get the diaphragm to return to its job of helping you breathe.
Even as a healthy individual, you can experience the calming and rejuvenating effects of these techniques.
Thus, they can help improve the overall respiratory health and lung capacity.
Let’s discuss these exercises as follows:
Diaphragmatic breathing is the right way of breathing.
However, most individuals do not practice it.
If you have limited lung capacity then you might be taking short, shallow breaths, which is an indicator of improper breathing.
A proper breath will draw enough air into your lungs.
Rhus, pushing your diaphragm down and visibly expanding your belly.
This is why it is called “belly breathing”/
Follow these steps to engage in deep breathing:
Sit up straight, with one hand on the stomach and the other on your chest.
Inhale slowly and deeply through the nostrils, feeling your stomach expanding with each, diaphragmatic breath.
Exhale out slowly and repeat 6 or more times, each minute for up to 15 minutes.
This one is a popular method to improve your overall breathing and is also one of the fast ways to fall asleep.
Most often doctors advise or suggest that you can drift off to sleep in less than a minute using this approach.
Part of the success of 4-7-8 techniques is their ability to ease tension and promote relaxation.
Thus, practicing the following breathing exercise can help reduce stress and anxiety.
This can help provide relief from insomnia, mood swings, and food cravings.
For this exercise, follow the steps below:
Breathe out fully through your mouth, creating a wind-like ‘whoosh’ noise.
Keeping your mouth closed, inhale through your nose and count for 4 silently.
Hold your breath while counting to 7 and exhale through your mouth for a count of 8.
Thus, repeating the ‘whoosh’ sound again.
Repeat these steps at least 4 to 5 times a day.
You might not be monitoring your blood oxygen levels regularly, however, if you have any health disorder, to may need to check them more often with the help of pulse oximetry. For this, you can use a pulse oximeter to get the reading or get an ABG test for an accurate reading.
Although it does have a margin of error, a pulse ox is usually accurate. However, if your doctor needs more accurate reading, they may order an ABG Test.
If you do need to raise your blood oxygen level, then your doctor or health care provider may advise you to get supplemental oxygen. Thus, it is important to follow the instructions of your doctor on how home oxygen can be used to avoid any complications. Also avoid going to high altitude as well.