The official blog of the Lung Institute.
For those people living with a chronic lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), there are many factors when measuring one’s health. These factors can include various sets of metrics which help the patient better understand the current state of their health. One of these metrics is oxygen saturation levels.
Oxygen saturation is one factor in determining how easy it is for one to breathe, which is vital for someone with COPD. To better understand this, here’s how COPD affects oxygen saturation levels.
What is COPD?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a progressive form of lung disease ranging from mild to severe. COPD is known for the restriction of airflow into and out of the lungs, thus making it difficult to breathe. Restrictive lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis fall under the umbrella of COPD. There are four stages of COPD, ranging from mild to very severe.
Typically, symptoms of COPD can include shortness of breath, constant “smoker’s cough”, sleep apnea, wheezing and recurring upper respiratory infections – pneumonia and bronchitis. For some people, COPD can develop slowly, but for others, disease progression can happen quickly.
What are Oxygen Saturation Levels?
Oxygen saturation is a measure of how much oxygen the blood is carrying through the body. Oxygen attaches to the hemoglobin molecules in the blood. The oxygen carried in the blood is usually referenced as a percentage of the maximum amount of O2 the blood can carry.
Normal oxygen saturation levels range from 95 to 100 percent. Simply put, oxygen levels under 90 percent are considered low, and are also known as hypoxemia. Oxygen saturation is also referred to as SpO2.
How Oxygen Saturation Levels are Affected by COPD
As a patient’s COPD stage diagnosis advances, symptoms get worse. When a patient is diagnosed with stage four or very severe COPD, many people have trouble getting enough oxygen. Doing simple tasks become very difficult.
One way to help oxygen saturation levels is to eat COPD-friendly foods that improve blood oxygen. In addition to a change in diet, doctors often prescribe oxygen therapy to help the body receive enough oxygen. Oxygen therapy is conducted using supplemental oxygen, where patients breathe in air from compressed air tanks or liquid oxygen containers via nasal prongs, masks or breathing tubes.
Oxygen therapy can be a great short-term or long-term treatment plan. It helps people receive the recommended amount of oxygen. However, there are also alternatives. Some COPD patients have turned to stem cell therapy as a treatment option. Stem cell therapy uses the patients’ own body, and it may affect disease progression and may improve quality of life.
If you or someone you know suffers from a chronic lung disease like COPD, interstitial lung disease emphysema or pulmonary fibrosis, the Lung Institute may be able to help. For more information about stem cell therapy, please contact us or call (800) 729-3065.