Blood oxygen level refers to the amount of oxygen carried by your red blood cells. It is crucial for the proper functioning of your body. However, certain health conditions or lifestyle factors can lead to a drop in these levels. “A decreased blood oxygen level can cause fatigue, shortness of breath, and even impact cognitive function,” says family doctor Natalia Hapych, MD. “However, there are several ways to increase your blood oxygen levels, thus ensuring optimum health.”
On This Page
What is Blood Oxygen Level?
Blood oxygen level is the percentage of oxygen that’s carried by your red blood cells from the lungs to the rest of the body. It is a crucial measure of how well your lungs are working.
The main symptom of low blood oxygen is a condition known as hypoxemia, characterized by shortness of breath, rapid breathing, and an increased heart rate. In severe cases, you may experience confusion, a bluish color on your lips, skin, or fingernails, and even loss of consciousness.
Are There Other Conditions That Mimic Low Blood Oxygen Level?
The decreased blood oxygen level can mirror several other health conditions, such as:
“These conditions can all lead to symptoms similar to those seen in low blood oxygen levels,” Dr. Hapych states. “A thorough medical examination is required to differentiate between them. Each condition has unique treatments. Hence, knowing the exact issue is crucial.”
What Causes Low Blood Oxygen Levels?
Several factors contribute to low blood oxygen levels. They include respiratory conditions like pneumonia or bronchitis, exposure to high altitudes, or obstructions in the airway. Certain lifestyle factors, like smoking, can also lead to decreased oxygen levels.
“Lack of physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle can also contribute to low blood oxygen levels,” says Dr. Hapych. “This is because exercise helps increase your lung capacity and thus your body’s ability to absorb oxygen.”
How Can I Increase My Blood Oxygen Level?
Fortunately, there are several ways to increase your blood oxygen levels. Let’s discuss some methods:
Healthy lifestyle habits can greatly improve your oxygen levels. This includes:
- Regular exercise: Physical activities like walking, jogging, swimming, and yoga can enhance your lung capacity and, thus, oxygen uptake.
- Breathing exercises: Techniques such as pursed-lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing can help improve your oxygen levels.
- Healthy diet: Consuming a diet rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids can support lung health. Include more fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts in your diet.
- Quit smoking: Smoking damages your lungs and decreases their capacity to absorb oxygen.
In case of severe oxygen deficiency, medical interventions might be required, such as:
- Oxygen therapy: This involves inhaling oxygen from a device like a nasal cannula or face mask.
- Medications: Certain drugs can help improve lung function and oxygen uptake.
“Always consult your healthcare provider before starting any new treatment,” Dr. Hapych emphasizes. “They will guide you on the best course of action based on your specific health condition.”
Apart from the conventional methods, certain alternative therapies might also help:
- Acupuncture: Some studies suggest it might help improve lung function and oxygen uptake.
- Yoga: It combines deep breathing exercises and physical postures, which can enhance lung health.
- Meditation: Mindful breathing practices can help regulate your breathing pattern and naturally increase your blood oxygen levels.
How Long Does It Take to Increase Blood Oxygen Level?
The duration to significantly increase your blood oxygen level depends on the underlying cause, the severity of your condition, and your body’s response to the treatment.
“Simple lifestyle changes can show improvement within a few weeks,” says Dr. Hapych. “However, in case of severe deficiencies, it might take a few months of consistent treatment. Regular monitoring of your oxygen levels is essential.”
Remember, it is possible to improve your blood oxygen levels with some effort and guidance from healthcare professionals. It’s not a one-time fix but a lifelong commitment to your health. With determination and consistency, you can certainly breathe easily and enjoy a better quality of life.
Frequently Asked Questions About Blood Oxygen Level
A normal blood oxygen level is anywhere between 95 and 100 percent. Anything below 95 percent is considered to be low, and anything above 100 percent is considered to be high.
The symptoms of low blood oxygen levels include shortness of breath, high blood pressure, rapid breathing, chest pain, confusion, headaches, anxiety, and sleepiness.
There are many possible causes of low blood oxygen levels, including lung disorders such as COPD, heart failure, and sleep apnea. Smoking and exposure to high altitudes can also cause low oxygen levels.
Yes, low blood oxygen levels can be dangerous if they’re not treated right away. If your blood oxygen level dips below 80 percent, it can start to cause damage to your organs. In extreme cases, it can even lead to death.
Further Reading: 8 Signs of Not Getting Enough Oxygen in Your Blood