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Low Blood Oxygen and How it Affects the Body

26 Aug 2016
| Under Oxygen Levels | Posted by | 18 Comments
Low Blood Oxygen and How it Affects the Body

One of the many challenges of living with a chronic lung disease is low blood-oxygen levels. When the organs, cells and tissues of the body do not receive enough oxygen, hypoxia can occur. Having a chronic lung disease can increase your risk of developing hypoxia. We’re here to help you better understand low blood oxygen and how it affects the body.

What is hypoxia and why is it dangerous?

Hypoxia, sometimes referred to as hypoxemia, is a below-normal level of oxygen in the blood, often experienced by people with breathing or circulation problems. To measure hypoxia, a blood sample measuring the arterial blood gas may be performed, or it can be estimated by measuring oxygen saturation in the blood using a pulse oximeter.

What are the signs and symptoms of hypoxia or low blood oxygen levels?

  • Wheezing
  • Frequent cough
  • Choking sensation
  • Waking up out of breath
  • Bluish discoloration of the skin
  • Shortness of breath while resting
  • Severe shortness of breath after physical activity

Low blood oxygen levels and lung disease

Low Blood Oxygen and How it Affects the BodyChronic lung diseases, such as COPD, emphysema and chronic bronchitis, cause breathing difficulty and are characterized by the restriction of airflow. Restricted airflow increases the risk of developing hypoxia.

What are the complications of hypoxia or low blood oxygen?

Although hypoxia induced by chronic lung disease hinders breathing, it affects more than the lungs. If you find it difficult to inhale, or to receive adequate amounts of oxygen, your blood becomes oxygen deprived—a serious situation. All organs, tissues and cells in the body need oxygen, so taking action to ensure adequate oxygen intake is important.

What is oxygen therapy?

Low Blood Oxygen and How it Affects the BodyMany doctors prescribe supplemental oxygen or oxygen therapy for people with lung diseases who aren’t getting enough oxygen. The goal of oxygen therapy is to help you receive enough oxygen.

What is a normal blood oxygen level, and how can I improve my oxygen levels?

Normal blood oxygen levels are greater than 95 percent, and oxygen levels below 90 percent are considered low blood oxygen, suggesting hypoxemia.

There are many ways to help you improve your oxygen levels. You could try adding plants such as the areca palm, snake plant, money plant or gerbera daisy to your home to naturally increase oxygen, or try natural air purifiers, such as salt lamps, peace lilies and bamboo charcoal.

Staying calm and practicing deep breathing exercises can lower stress levels and improve oxygen levels. When you’re relaxed, it’s easier to breathe, so consider giving meditation, yoga, writing in a journal or positive thinking exercises a try.

Exercise is important for everyone, especially for people with lung diseases. Even gentle forms of exercise such as Tai Chi and walking can improve your oxygen levels and boost your exercise tolerance.

Low Blood Oxygen and How it Affects the BodyDrinking enough water is a simple way to increase your blood oxygen levels. Water hydrates the body, thereby helping to increase the volume of blood available for the lungs to oxygenate.

A healthy diet can also improve your oxygen levels. Using herbs instead of salt can reduce bloating while still giving your food flavor. You can also try eating fresh, steamed vegetables such as spinach, potatoes, green beans and carrots. Remember to eat plenty of lean protein, too. Before trying a new diet, exercise or treatment plan, always discuss it with your doctor.

Ready to learn more about how oxygen affects other parts of the body? Check it out below:


  1. M R

    2 months ago

    Hello Connie,
    Thank you for your question. Please give us a call at (855) 313-1149. That way one of our patient coordinators can go over all your questions and concerns in greater detail. Thanks again and have a great day.

  2. Connie Peterson

    2 months ago

    I’ve been diagnosed with: COPD, A-Fib/A-Flutter, level 3 moderate kidney disease and diabetics. I am looking into stem cell therapy but have not discussed this with my PC physician / Cardiologist and pulmonary physician. My “normal O2 saturation on 4 lpm oxygen is 80 – 82% resting and significantly decreases to low to mid 60’s with activity. I ubderstand you have a facility in Pittsburg and the therapy is not covered by Medicare or supplemental insurance so I need to know what options are available and if you have a payement plan. I love in Pennsylvania and am on Social Security.
    Thank you for any help or advice you can offer me. I am very close to Temple University Hospital and wonder if they are involved in any clinical trials?

    Thank you

  3. PB

    7 months ago

    Dear Dianna,

    Thanks for your question. Like you, many people with COPD have trouble with fatigue and energy levels. In conjunction with your deep breathing exercises, you could consider trying gentle stretches that you can do from a seated position. You could also try relaxation techniques such as writing in a journal and listening to gentle music. When you incorporate these techniques into your daily routine, you may notice more energy. Of course, it’s important to remember that increasing your energy levels takes time. It’s also important to talk with your doctor about your questions and concerns about your energy levels and what techniques would work best for you. We wish you the best.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute


    7 months ago

    I have COPD and use oxygen n nebulizer n inhalers, my question is ; i have no energy to do any thing i need too. deep breathing i practise, but i am grunting, when i try to do something extra like out doors..please, any suggestions ?

  5. PB

    7 months ago

    Dear Loretta,

    First and foremost, we’re sorry to hear that you’ve been having such a difficult time with coughing and mucus. It’s best to discuss these symptoms with your doctor or pulmonologist, especially if your symptoms seem to be changing, worsening or new. Because your doctor knows you and your health situation well, he or she will be able to best guide you. In the meantime, feel free to check out our blog article about ways to clear the lungs by clicking here. We hope this information is helpful, and we wish you the best.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  6. Loretta

    7 months ago

    my right lung was damaged by 30 radiation after a lumpectomy in 2010.I cough a lot but the doctors save my lungs sound good. But I don’t feel like they are working right. I cough up lots of yellow mucus especially in arising and after meals or just any time. Use nebuliser 4 times a day.
    Albuterol 4s.Ipatropium 2s, & Budesonide 2s times a day.

  7. PB

    8 months ago

    Hello Frank,

    We’re glad that you found this information helpful. Keep checking-in with our blog to find more articles on a variety of topics to help people with lung diseases breathe easier. We wish you the best.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  8. Frank Timmons

    8 months ago

    great information. Thank you

  9. sh

    8 months ago

    Hello, Jacques.
    I can answer one of your questions here in this forum–the Lung Institute does not yet operate a clinic in Canada.
    We don’t know whether the treatment would be covered by the Canadian health system. It seems that the best way to learn that is to contact a Canadian health system representative, and ask if, 1. they cover stem cell therapy and, 2., if they cover the therapy here in the United States.
    As for any questions about medications or exercise, we suggest you ask your doctor. No one knows your personal situation better than you and your physician, and we have no way of making those type of judgements in this forum.
    Our treatments require three consecutive days, after which you can return home. There is no need to return, unless you choose to have a booster treatment.
    If you would like more detailed information, please call our patient coordinators here in Tampa, Florida, at 1-(855) 313-1149. They’ll be happy to answer all of your questions much more effectively than I can.

    Best of Luck, and thanks for contacting us.

    The Lung Institute

  10. Jacques

    8 months ago

    I am Canadian, are you aware if the Canadian health system is paying at least a portion of the stem cells treatment. Also do you have a clinic in Canada ?
    What is the cost of a complete stem cells treatment for obtaining enough healthy efficient stem cells to not taking Spiriva medicine or any lungs medicine anymore ? Another question is do I will be able to breathing good enough to jog at moderate speed for one hour ?
    How long do I will have to stay at hotels before complete positive treatment and not come back to the clinic ?

  11. PB

    8 months ago

    Dear Emma Jean,

    We’re glad that you found this information helpful. While fundraising for treatment can be challenging at times, check out some treatment fundraising tips that some of our patients have used. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have regarding stem cell therapy, so feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  12. Emma Jean tedder

    9 months ago

    I appreciate the info. I’m really bad at raising money for stem cell treatment, but can manage my savings of about $2,000. Is there a treatment payment plan available for the balance?

  13. PB

    9 months ago

    Dear Immodesto,

    We’re glad to hear that our emails and blog articles are helpful for you.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  14. immodesto

    9 months ago

    Thank you,my emails fromthe Lung Institute help me with my copd…..

  15. sh

    9 months ago

    Good morning, Mr. Campbell.
    Our blog posts are intended to be informative and fun to read and are offered as a service to everyone who cares to read them. We don’t publish a pamphlet containing blog post information, but if you would like to discuss anything at all related to stem cell therapy, please give us a call at (855) 313-1149. One of our patient coordinators will be happy to speak with you and answer any questions you might have about how we help people with lung disease breathe more easily.

    Best Regards,
    The Lung Institute

  16. Gary Campbell

    9 months ago

    Would like to receive all of this in pamphlet if possible!

  17. PB

    9 months ago

    Dear Victor,

    Thank you for your question. In this article, we wanted to discuss how low blood oxygen affects the body. For people with a chronic lung disease, such as pulmonary fibrosis or COPD, low blood oxygen can be a challenge. However, we have written in-depth articles on pulmonary fibrosis as well. You can read more about pulmonary fibrosis by clicking here. We hope this is helpful for you, and we wish you the best.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  18. Victor

    9 months ago

    You do not discuss pulmonary fibrosis. Why not?Victor

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* All treatments performed at Lung Institute utilize autologous stem cells, meaning those derived from a patient's own body. No fetal or embryonic stem cells are utilized in Lung Institute's procedures. Lung Institute aims to improve patients' quality of life and help them breathe easier through the use of autologous stem cell therapy. To learn more about how stem cells work for lung disease, click here.

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