A standard visit to the doctor usually includes a blood pressure reading, a temperature check, a breathing check by listening to your lungs, a heart beat check with the stethoscope and a quick look in your mouth, nose and throat. These quick standard procedures can help a doctor get a quick overview of your overall health condition.  Lately, (possibly due to COVID) a pulse oximeter has been added to check for your current blood oxygen level.

Oxygen is necessary for life.  We breathe in oxygen, which fills our lungs.  Oxygen then goes from our lungs into the bloodstream.  That bloodstream takes the oxygen to cells all over the body.  Every cell in our body needs oxygen to create energy and that energy allows the cell to perform its intended function.  Those cells use the oxygen from the blood and replace it with carbon dioxide.  Your blood stream carries that carbon dioxide back to your lungs where you breathe it out and of course exchange it for fresh oxygen.


A pulse oximeter is a little finger or toe clamp device that can determine the oxygen saturation in your blood. A pulse oximeter measures how fast your heart is beating and how well you are breathing.  This reading tells the percentage of your blood that is saturated with oxygen.  Low levels of oxygen can indicate that your lungs or circulatory system are compromised.


Understanding Oxygen Numbers


NORMAL             96% or more Oxygen Saturation (SpO2)    40-100 Pulse Rate

ACCEPTABLE    95% Oxygen Saturation    101-109 Pulse Rate

SEE DOCTOR     93-94%  Oxygen Saturation     110-130 Pulse Rate

EMERGENCY     92% or less Oxygen Saturation     131 or more Pulse Rate


Lung conditions and illness can affect your readings.

To track your oxygen saturation take a reading 3 times per day at the same time everyday and record your numbers.  Keep track of both your oxygen and heart rate.


Symptoms Of Low Blood Oxygen

Hypoxemia is a below normal level of oxygen in your blood.

  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Confusion
  • Fingernails, skin or lips a bluish color


Lifestyle Habits To Improve Oxygen Levels

  • Get fresh air.  Open windows or get outside.
  • Stop smoking.  Smoking inhibits lung function.
  • Practice deep breathing exercises.  Deep belly breaths can open airways and improve the amount of oxygen in your blood.



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