Blood oxygen level refers to the amount of oxygen in the blood. The red blood cells (RBCs) are the carriers of oxygen. The RBCs collect it from the lungs and deliver it to different body parts. The body tends to keep a close watch on the blood oxygen levels to keep them within a particular range, such that there is sufficient oxygen to meet the needs of each cell. The oxygen level of a person’s blood indicates how the body takes oxygen to the cells from the lungs. It can be important for a person’s health.
Low and normal oxygen levels in the blood
The healthy blood oxygen level tends to vary from 75 to 100 millimeters of mercury. When it comes to ABG (arterial blood gas) test results, the medical community considers an oxygen level of less than 60 mm Hg as low. In many cases, people with the results might need oxygen supplementation.
Hypoxemia is when the blood oxygen level is low compared to that of an average healthy person. So, oxygen level 70 or less can be termed hypoxemia. It occurs when the body faces difficulty delivering oxygen to different organs, tissues, and cells.
What is oxygen saturation?
Oxygen saturation is the percentage of oxygen in the blood of a person. Medical professionals tend to use a device known as a pulse oximeter for consistent monitoring or quick tests. This device is attached to the fingertip of a person.
Healthy oxygen saturation levels range from 95 to 100 percent. As such, oxygen level 70 is considered low. When the levels of a person go below this particular range, they might face symptoms related to a lack of oxygen like confusion and troubled breathing.
How to measure the blood oxygen levels
The most efficient way of monitoring blood oxygen levels is an ABG test. The test takes blood samples from the artery present in the wrist. The process is accurate, even though it is a bit painful.
Now, doctors tend to carry out an ABG test in the hospital. But people might test themselves at home using a smaller device called a pulse oximeter. The pulse oximeters are smaller clips that often attach to one finger, though it’ll work on a toe or an ear. It indirectly measures blood oxygen by light absorption through the pulse of a person.
Though pulse oximeters test is less painful, quicker, and easier than ABG tests, it isn’t as precise. Many factors tend to interfere with the results, such as:
- nail polish
- dirty fingers
- darker skin tones
- bright lights
- poor circulation to the extremities
Thus, oxygen levels 70 or 80 might not be well detected.
Symptoms of low oxygen levels in the blood
Low oxygen levels in the blood can lead to abnormal circulation and result in the following symptoms:
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- rapid breathing
- lack of coordination
- high blood pressure
- sense of euphoria
- visual disorders
- rapid heartbeat
Causes of low oxygen supply in the blood
Hypoxemia is the medical term for low oxygen levels in the blood. It might occur due to:
- The inability of lungs to take in and send oxygen to all tissues and cells
- insufficient oxygen in the air
- inability of blood to circulate to the lungs. Then, collect oxygen and send it around the body
When to get in touch with a doctor
People need to get in touch with a doctor if they:
- face shortness of breath at rest
- face sudden and severe shortness of breath
- severe shortness of breath and that worsens at the time of any physical activity
- are at higher altitude and experience shortness of breath with a rapid heartbeat, cough, and fluid retention
- wake up suddenly with shortness of breath or a choking feel
Treatment for low oxygen levels
Treatment for lower blood oxygen levels is supplemental oxygen. Doctors can administer oxygen therapy in their office, or they can recommend or prescribe the use of HOT (home oxygen therapy). Many devices are available to deliver and monitor HOT, though some need a prescription.
People might make lifestyle adjustments for reducing the symptoms of lower oxygen levels, along with improving their quality of life and general health. Some of the beneficial changes in this regard are:
- quit smoking
- avoid secondhand smoke
- regular exercising
- eat a healthy diet having loads of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean protein
Several conditions might lead to low levels of blood oxygen. Then, treating the condition might help to enhance the blood oxygen levels. Regular and consistent oxygen monitoring might be necessary for people with chronic lung diseases. People with lower blood oxygen levels also need to make several lifestyle changes like adjusting their exercise and dietary habits.