Vital signs (or VS) are the primary indicators of a stable and healthy body – the pulse rate (PR), respiratory rate (RR), blood pressure (BP), body temperature, and blood oxygen saturation (SPO2). These measurements are a standard procedure for determining potential diseases and monitoring during hospital confinement, routine medical consultation, or treatments.
During the pandemic, perhaps, using a pulse oximeter to measure SPO2 is greatly emphasized. Essentially, blood oxygen levels are linked to the body’s cardiorespiratory health – the heart, lungs, blood, arteries, capillaries, and veins. Thus, low reading may indicate a lack of oxygen circulating in the body. And depending on the case, this can lead to a life-threatening condition and compromise multiple organ functions, especially the heart and lungs.
In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of blood oxygen level and how you can keep a normal SPO2. Continue reading to learn more.
Blood Oxygen Levels: What Is It and Why Is It Important?
Blood oxygen levels refer to the amount of oxygen in the red blood cells (RBC), carried by the protein hemoglobin. It’s a good indicator of how oxygen is properly distributed to all the cells, tissues, and organs. An adequate amount of oxygen saturation creates normal body homeostasis and an overall healthy body.
Oxygen (O2) enters your body when you breathe in through your nose or mouth. It goes into your lungs and joins the bloodstream through the pulmonary circulation, where the exchange of deoxygenated for oxygenated blood takes place.
How Do You Measure Blood Oxygen Levels?
An arterial blood gas (ABG) test is the most accurate and efficient way of measuring the amount of oxygen carried by hemoglobin. It’s usually done in hospitals and advanced medical clinics. Most physicians request this type of test for individuals with cardiopulmonary issues or during emergency cases.
For ABG, the normal range for a healthy blood oxygen level is between 75 – 100 millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Depending on the patient’s pain tolerance, you may feel a brief, sharp pain that can last for minutes to hours. And in some cases, you may also feel lightheaded while the procedure is being done.
Fortunately, advancements in science and technology have paved the way for people to measure their blood oxygen levels at any time or place- with the help of a pulse oximeter. It’s a small device usually attached to the patient’s finger that can deliver fast information about your SPO2. The normal result is generally between 95% to 100%.
When ABG test and pulse oximeter results are low, they may indicate heart, lung, or other serious health conditions.
What are the Causes and Symptoms of Low Blood Oxygen Levels?
Hypoxemia is a medical term to describe a low blood oxygen level. Generally, there are possible factors that may cause it:
- Inadequate amount or contaminated oxygen in the air
- Inability of the lungs to convert deoxygenated blood to oxygenated (O2-rich) blood
- Defects in the heart, lungs, arteries, capillaries, veins, and other structures that compromise the body’s oxygen supply
- Blood disease or anomaly that affects the pulmonary and systemic blood circulation
The most common symptoms include:
- Chest pain or tightness
- Rapid Breathing
- Rapid Heartbeat
- Shortness of Breath (SOB)
- Vision problems
Keeping A Normal Blood Oxygen Level
Prolonged low blood oxygen levels are dangerous and may lead to progressive failure of various organ systems. As such, immediate medical attention must be given to prevent these cascades of events. You may incorporate some activities into your daily routine to help you keep a normal blood oxygen level.
To name a few, here are some things you can do:
- Smoking Cessation
Smoking cigarettes and vaping are believed to reduce your blood oxygen level- as nicotine and other ingredients enter your bloodstream. Chemicals may cause your blood vessels to constrict and reduce the supply of oxygen and nutrients for all the cells in the body.
You must also avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. It’s more dangerous than firsthand smoke, increasing the risk of acquiring pulmonary conditions and cancer.
- Practicing Daily Breathing Exercises
You may look for video tutorials on how to practice daily breathing exercises. Proper techniques can help open the airways, thus increasing and regulating your body’s oxygen intake. Examples are the deep belly and pursed-lip breathing. These are also included in the pulmonary rehabilitation of patients with heart and lung conditions.
- Breathing in Clean and Fresh Air
The air we breathe contains the oxygen that our body needs. Clean and fresh air maintains the purity and safety of oxygen our lungs use to convert deoxygenated blood to an oxygen-rich blood flow.
Contaminated air contains toxic and harmful substances that can hurt the health of your lungs and compromise the blood oxygen supply. With that, having indoor plants and trees in your garden can help eliminate the harmful carbon dioxide in the air. Taking a walk in nature can also be good for your cardiopulmonary health.
- Engaging in Physical Activities
Engaging in physical activities is good for your heart and lungs. Doing so helps increase their strength and endurance to continue their work in supplying fresh oxygen to the cells and getting rid of the carbon dioxide in your body. A simple exercise at home or the gym can help increase and maintain a normal blood oxygen level.
- Having a Regular Medical Consultation
The symptoms may mimic the features of other conditions. Thus, having regular medical consultations and check-ups can help monitor your blood oxygen level. If you have a low result, your physician can prescribe medications and treatments to prevent the condition from worsening.
Taking All Into Account
It’s vital to have a normal blood oxygen level. Note that a low result may indicate a medical condition that can compromise your overall health.
With that, seek immediate medical attention to prevent worsening symptoms that may lead to life-threatening complications. Moreover, lead and promote a healthy lifestyle to maintain a normal blood oxygen level and ensure your overall health and wellness.