What makes blood oxygen level a topic of concern?

Oxygen is one of the most vital components of your body. Your body is liable to execute different functions only because of the adequate amount of oxygen that is inhaled. It is then supplied to the blood which further helps in different bodily processes. When we talk about blood oxygen levels, this is the amount of oxygen that red blood cells are carrying. Your body has a system for everything and thus can regulate blood oxygen levels closely. Your body needs to maintain the precise oxygen saturation of blood to keep up with your health.

When do you need to monitor blood oxygen levels?

A healthy person need not measure the blood oxygen levels from time to time. The human body has a mechanism for different purposes that works to help you keep up with your health. Usually, there is no need to monitor blood oxygen levels in children and healthy adults. However, humans suffering from chronic or respiratory diseases often need to monitor blood oxygen levels. These chronic diseases include heart-related issues,chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In such patients, monitoring blood oxygen levels can help in delivering the precise treatment. 

Recently, after the Covid-19 pandemic, doctors always keep the blood oxygen levels of every patient in check. It helps them keep up with the patient’s health and gives them the desired treatment. 

What equipment is used to measure blood oxygen levels? 

There are two pieces of equipment used to measure blood oxygen levels.

Arterial Blood Gas Test (ABG Test)

It is a blood test in which the blood is drawn from your arteries rather than veins. Arteries carry the oxygenated blood from the heart to other parts of the body. While veins carry deoxygenated blood to the heart. 

The ABG test not only helps in measuring the blood oxygen levels but also helps you estimate the levels of other gases in the blood. Understanding the levels of different gases help in delivering better and precise treatment to the patient. ABG is accurate but invasive. 

Besides, the ABG test requires blood from the arteries which are deeper than the vein and can result in discomfort. Usually, wrist arteries are used to draw blood as they are easy to feel and extract blood. 

Pulse Oximeter 

A pulse oximeter is a non-invasive device that helps measure blood oxygen levels. It does so by transmitting infrared radiation in the capillaries and measuring the reflection through the gases. The oximeter is placed on your finger, toe, or earlobe.

The pulse oximeter is a fast and most used method for measuring blood oxygen levels. It is fast and does not need any professional expertise to perform the test. Although, it has a 2% error gap. 

Although this method is not accurate but is faster and more reliable than the ABG test. And hence doctors prefer this method to measure the blood oxygen levels. 

What is the range of blood oxygen levels?

The measurement of your blood oxygen is called oxygen saturation level. In medical terms, it is referred to as PaO2 when using the ABG test and O2 sat SpO2 when using a pulse oximeter. The underlying pointers state the ranges of normal, low, and high levels of oxygen saturation. 

Normal blood oxygen level range

The ABG test oxygen level of a normal individual falls between 80 to 100 mmHg. While measuring through a Pulse oximeter it is 95% to 100%. 

For individuals suffering from respiratory diseases, the normal oxygen saturation level is different and lower than the oxygen saturation level of a healthy individual. 

Below normal blood oxygen level range

When seen through medical terms  PaO2 of 80 mmHg and SpO2 95% is considered low. If the blood oxygen levels fall further, you may need to take immediate medical action to restore your oxygen levels. 

The condition with low oxygen levels is termed Hypoxemia. Low oxygen levels can affect the normal functioning of your organs and tissues. In extreme cases, it may result in complexities and a few times can be fatal. Low blood oxygen levels are overcome by supplying oxygen externally to external oxygen cylinders. 

Above Normal 

The oxygen level above the normal level is rarely seen. The case arises when the individual is on external oxygen support and is unattended. 

Pulse oximeter doesn’t show high SpO2 levels and thus you can’t monitor oxygen saturation through a pulse oximeter. You need to rely on the ABG test for such situations.

What happens when your blood oxygen levels are too low?

If you are running low on oxygen, your body might show the underlying symptoms.

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Faster Heartbeats
  • The confused state of mind
  • Headache ranging from mild to severe
  • Dizziness in some cases

If your blood oxygen levels are low for a long time, you might show the symptoms of Cyanosis. These symptoms include blue discoloration of nails, skin, and mucus membrane. Cyanosis is a critical condition and you must consult a doctor immediately in such a situation.  If the complexities in the condition are increased, it can be life-threatening.

Blood oxygen levels can be observed to decline in several medical conditions. These conditions include

  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Lung related issues
  • Congenital heart defects 
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Asthma
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome 
  • Anemia

Individuals suffering from any of these diseases can experience the symptoms of low blood oxygen levels.

Last Words

Everyone doesn’t need to monitor their blood oxygen levels. It’s only essential for the patients to ensure a safe treatment. People suffering from any respiratory or chronic issues need to monitor their blood oxygen levels as these diseases can result in low oxygen saturation. In such situations, a pulse oximeter is the most reliable method. It gives a minor error but is sufficient to carry on with the necessary treatment. The ABG method is accurate but takes time to deliver results and thus is used only when accurate readings are essential. 

To know more about such health-related aspects you can also visit our other articles. If you have any confusion regarding anything, DM your query or let us know in the comment section. Our experts are always ready to help you in all ways possible.

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