Oxygen: You Can’t Live Without It
I am sure most of you have studied oxygen since high school, with this element cropping up in lessons from geography to chemistry. However, for us human beings, the most important topic of oxygen lies in biology.
Oxygen has a vital role in several processes that occur in our body, including respiration and energy production. It comes as no surprise that any changes to the levels of oxygen in our blood can have catastrophic effects on our body and its ability to function. A normal oxygen level is usually 95% or higher; this may fluctuate to around 90% in people with chronic lung disease or sleep apnoea. If these levels drop below what is considered normal for your health, oxygen supplementation may be necessary to prevent your body from shutting down.
Signs of low oxygen blood levels
There are several landmark indicators of low blood oxygen levels, and if you present with a collation of these, you should contact medical personnel for further investigation. However, it is worth keeping in mind that the symptoms described may present in several other conditions.
In no particular order of importance these symptoms include:
|Shortness of breath|
High blood pressure
Rapid heart rate
|Lack of coordination|
Given the impact that the current coronavirus has had on people’s respiratory systems, several COVID-19 patients have been given a pulse oximeter once discharged from hospital’s in the UK to measure not only how fast their heart is beating but also how well they are breathing, measured as the levels of oxygen in the blood. But how does pulse oximetry actually work, and why are these tools so useful?
Pulse Oximeters & Oximetry
The most pressing question is, how does a little device measure your blood oxygen levels without being invasive? This technology uses an indirect measure of blood oxygen by light absorption through a person’s pulse. The image to the right represents a standard pulse oximeter that you can buy on our website. The SpO2 reading represents the oxygen levels previously discussed, whilst the PRbpm is your heart rate.
Those given a pulse oximeter following COVID-19 were also asked to keep a record of their recordings. This allowed them to visually see any improvements in their oxygen levels and heart rate following this disease.
Although these tools are fantastic to keep on top of your health at home, it is important to remember that they solely provide an indication and are not 100% accurate. Any fluctuations in levels should be further investigated by medical staff