We take our bodies for granted for the most part, and it’s only when something isn’t right that we realise just how vital it is that every cell, tissue and organ works as it should. If you’ve recently found out you have low blood oxygen levels, here’s everything you need to know about the issue:
What does blood oxygen show?
Your red blood cells transport a certain amount of oxygen at a time around the body, and your blood oxygen is a marker of how much oxygen they carry. It’s your body’s job to control your oxygen levels, and make sure your blood contains the right amount at any given time. However, if you have a chronic disease, your blood oxygen might be at risk of falling too low.
You don’t need to monitor your blood oxygen levels for the fun of it. It’s only if your doctor has a reason to suspect that your oxygen is too low that they’ll consider carrying out a few tests. If your doctor diagnoses you with a chronic disease, you might have to monitor your blood oxygen for the rest of your life.
What happens if your blood oxygen levels are too low?
If your blood oxygen levels are too low, you’ll probably start to experience a number of combined symptoms, including chest pain, difficulty breathing, headache, quickened heartbeat and confusion. Low blood oxygen levels are normally always a sign that you have a medical disorder such as COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, heart disease, or lung damage from trauma.
You should seek out a doctor if you experience any one of the above symptoms for longer than a few hours’ time. They can carry out a number of different tests to accurately diagnose your condition, including X-rays and CT scans, lung function tests, and blood gas analysis.
What happens if you’re diagnosed with COPD?
If you’re diagnosed with COPD or any other illness that could negatively affect your blood oxygen levels, your doctor will put you on a treatment plan and provide you with the appropriate medications for minimising your symptoms.
It’s common to be offered something called bronchodilators, which are usually administered through inhalers, and can help to relax the muscles in your airways. This should reduce coughing and stop you from feeling short of breath as easily. You might use a bronchodilator before strenuous activity, or require it every day, depending on the severity of your COPD.
Other common COPD treatments include steroids, which you’ll be able to inhale through an inhaler, antibiotics for treating infections that might aggravate your COPD, and lung therapies like oxygen therapy, which monitors your blood oxygen levels and delivers supplemental oxygen to your blood.
You might need to go to hospital for this treatment, where Sensoronics machines with sensors can carefully monitor your condition and provide you with the additional oxygen you need. Some devices are portable and lightweight, allowing you to go about your daily life while oxygen is delivered to your blood.