Blood Oxygen Level : 10 Things You Need to Know

When talking about blood oxygen level, we are talking about the amount of oxygen being carried by the blood cells. Your doctor will usually examine your blood oxygen level before any diagnosis. Blood oxygen levels are carefully monitored by your body to evaluate how well your lungs operate and calculate the acid-base balance in your blood. This is known as the acid-base balance, and it’s critical to your blood’s ability to work optimally.

You’re not the only one becoming more anxious about their blood oxygen level. Pulse oximeters, the instrument used to measure BAC1, have increased in sales in recent years.

What is the ideal level of blood oxygenation?

As light shines through capillaries at the skin’s surface, pulse oximeters measure blood oxygen levels. As a percentage, it is also known as SpO22.

95-100 percent of one’s blood’s oxygen content is considered normal blood oxygen level. As a result, this level is generally lower for those with lung disorders or other health conditions. Having a blood oxygen level of less than 90% is very low. This is known as hypoxemia, and it may indicate that you need to visit a doctor (particularly with cases of COVID-19).

It’s worth noting that pulse oximeters aren’t always reliable. The oximeter reading may be 2 to 4 percent higher or lower than your real blood saturation level. Your physician may use a blood test to determine your blood oxygen levels for a more accurate result.

The significance of normal blood oxygen level

Along with heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and body temperature, oxygen saturation is considered one of the essential vital indicators in a medical examination. The amount of blood oxygen in the body is directly connected to anomalies or sickness, and a low level might indicate a major health concern such as:

Asthma, COPD, emphysema, embolism, cystic fibrosis, heart failure, and congenital abnormalities are the most common diseases.

Oxygen saturation may be used to track the progress of therapy for a specific illness and assist in diagnosis.

 What is a blood oxygen test?

An arterial blood gas analysis (ABGA) and pulse oximetry are the two most used methods for quantifying oxygen levels in arterial blood (using an oximeter). There isn’t much an oximeter can tell you about the oxygen levels in your blood.

  • Blood test to check for oxygen levels

As part of an arterial blood gas (ABG) test, healthcare practitioners may assess your blood oxygen level. An ABG test may measure the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood. The pH balance in your blood is also checked as part of the test. A blood acid level that is either too high or too low may damage your health in many ways.

  • Pulse oximetry

You may also use a pulse oximeter to monitor your blood oxygen saturation levels by placing a tiny clip on your finger or toe. The SpO2 level and heart rate are the only two things an oximeter readout can tell you about your health. Checking someone’s blood oxygen level using this method is rapid and painless.

In hospitals, pulse oximeters are often used by healthcare workers. You may get one at a pharmacy or from select businesses and websites to monitor your pulse.

 Who performs a blood oxygen level test?

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Photo by Jess Johnson / flickr

Respiratory therapists often collect blood for blood oxygen level testing from an artery in your wrist as a part of arterial blood gas tests. Depending on the situation, respiratory therapists or medical laboratory scientists may subsequently process the material.

A pulse oximeter may be used by any healthcare professional to measure your blood oxygen saturation. Additionally, you may monitor your own or another person’s pulse oximeter.

What takes place before a blood oxygen level test?

Before obtaining a blood sample from an artery in your wrist, a respiratory therapist may do a blood circulation test known as an Allen test. The Allen test asks you to raise your hand and make a fist. After a few seconds, your physician will apply pressure to the arteries in your wrist. This quick check ensures that your wrist’s two main arteries are open and functioning appropriately.

Before the blood draws, your physician may cut off your oxygen if you use it for further treatment. If you can’t breathe independently, your doctor won’t do this test.

What can you anticipate from a test to determine my blood oxygen level?

One of your veins is most often used to draw blood for most blood tests. This is due to the greater oxygen content of arterial blood than vein blood. A respiratory therapist will puncture one of your arteries to get blood for conducting a blood oxygen level test as part of an arterial blood gas test.

The radial artery, an artery in your wrist, is the most common place for a respiratory therapist to obtain a sample. Depending on the location, samples may be taken from the arm or the leg. Blood oxygen levels may be measured by drawing a newborn’s heel or umbilical cord sample.

Blood drawn from an artery is more painful than blood drawn from a vein, for obvious reasons. While a respiratory therapist draws blood from your artery, you may feel dizzy, lightheaded, or even vomit. Nerve-rich arteries make this possible since they penetrate deeper than veins.

What does it mean to have low blood oxygen levels?

Hypoxemia refers to a blood oxygen level that is lower than usual. Hypoxemia is a worry since oxygen is required for all of your body’s processes. The lower the oxygen level, the more difficulties in bodily tissue and organs are likely.

Your body’s capacity to transport adequate quantities of oxygen to your blood might be hampered by a range of situations and events. The following are some of the most prevalent causes of low blood oxygen levels (hypoxia):

  • Apnea during sleep (impaired breathing during sleep).
  • Lung tissue that is inflamed or scarred.
  • Places of high altitude with low quantities of oxygen in the surrounding air.
  • Heart problems.
  • Lung disorders such as asthma and bronchitis are examples.
  • Strong pain relievers or other issues that make breathing difficult.

If you have a low blood oxygen level, your healthcare professional will probably order more tests to figure out what’s causing it. The reason cannot be determined only by a blood oxygen level test.

What can you do to get more oxygen in the blood?

There are many natural methods to boost your blood oxygen levels, including:

1. Taking a deep breath:

Opening your windows or going for a stroll outdoors will help your body take in more oxygen, which raises your total blood oxygen level.

2. Smoking cessation:

Your circulation will likely improve dramatically within two to three weeks after quitting smoking. Shortness of breath lessens after one to nine months. Both of these factors aid your body’s capacity to absorb more oxygen.

3. Breathing exercises to practice:

Simple breathing exercises, which may include deep belly breathing and lip-breathing, may help to expand your airways and boost the quantity of oxygen in your blood.

You may monitor your blood oxygen level at home using a pulse oximeter to determine whether these natural techniques to enhance your oxygen intake work for you.

However, if you have an underlying ailment, particularly a severe sickness like pneumonia or carbon monoxide poisoning, these natural therapies may not be adequate to get your blood oxygen levels up to an appropriate level.

If you see indications of hypoxia3, go to the closest hospital right away.

When should you contact your physician?

Contact your healthcare physician if your oxygen saturation level is 92 percent or below and you’re using an oximeter at home. Get to the closest emergency hospital as soon as possible if it’s at 88 percent or below.

If you have a chronic lung ailment like COPD or asthma, you’ll need to visit your doctor frequently to ensure effective therapy. If you have any concerns about your lung status, contact your doctor as soon as possible.

What is the relationship between COVID-19 and blood oxygen saturation?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that mainly affects children. It produces symptoms such as a persistent cough, a tight chest, breathing difficulties, and weariness. Because the lungs are not working regularly and cannot exchange oxygen effectively, patients infected with COVID-19 might anticipate their oxygen levels to drop somewhat.

In persons with COVID-194, oxygen saturation should be maintained at 90-95 percent. If the patient’s levels go below this range, they should be evaluated, and the doctor may decide to start oxygen treatment in the hospital.

Blood oxygen levels may drop below 80% in more extreme COVID-19 instances, necessitating hospitalization, typically in an ICU.

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  1. Reimer, Lorenz Christian, et al. “Bac Dive in 2022: the knowledge base for standardized bacterial and archaeal data.” Nucleic Acids Research 50.D1 (2022): D741-D746. ↩︎
  2. Davies, Harry J., et al. “In-ear spo2: A tool for wearable, unobtrusive monitoring of core blood oxygen saturation.” Sensors 20.17 (2020): 4879. ↩︎
  3. Lee, Pearl, Navdeep S. Chandel, and M. Celeste Simon. “Cellular adaptation to hypoxia through hypoxia inducible factors and beyond.” Nature reviews Molecular cell biology 21.5 (2020): 268-283. ↩︎
  4. Ciotti, Marco, et al. “The COVID-19 pandemic.” Critical reviews in clinical laboratory sciences 57.6 (2020): 365-388. ↩︎

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