The official blog of the Lung Institute.

Oxygen Levels and Brain Function

21 May 2016
| Under Oxygen Levels | Posted by | 10 Comments
Oxygen Levels and Brain Function

Oxygen levels and brain function go hand in hand. Having enough oxygen in the brain is crucial to brain function, and therefore, to the body as a whole. The brain requires a constant supply of both oxygen and glucose. Without enough oxygen or with low blood-oxygen levels, the brain has trouble signaling where to send blood to oxygen-hungry muscles and tissues. Here’s what you need to know about oxygen levels and brain function.

How does the brain work?

The brain is a complex and energetic organ, which tells your body how to function using a system of nerves. It contains billions of nerve cells or neurons, and it coordinates thought, emotion, behavior, movement and sensation. The largest part of the brain is the cerebrum, and the outermost layer of the cerebrum is the cerebral cortex or gray matter. The deep folds in the brain increase the surface area of gray matter, which helps process more information.

The cerebrum is divided by a deep fissure into two hemispheres, which communicate with each other through a thick tract of nerves or corpus callosum. Even though it may seem surprising, messages to and from one side of the body are typically handled by the opposite side of the brain.

The brain sends messages to the peripheral nervous system, which consists of all nerves aside from those in the brain and spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system is a communication relay structure sending messages between the brain and the extremities.

The Outer Parts of the Brain

Oxygen Levels and Brain FunctionThe hemispheres of the brain are divided into four lobes: the frontal, parietal, occipital, and temporal lobes. The frontal lobes control thinking, problem solving, planning, short-term memory and movement. The parietal lobes interpret sensory information, like taste, touch, and temperature. The occipital lobes process images and link that information with images stored in memory. The temporal lobes process smell, taste, and sound information, playing a role in memory storage.

The cerebellum is a wrinkled ball of tissue situated below and behind the rest of the brain. It combines sensory information from the eyes, ears, and muscles to help coordinate movement. The brainstem links the brain to the spinal cord, which controls many vital functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and even sleep.

The Inner Parts of the Brain

Inside the brain are structures, known as the limbic system, which control emotions and memories. These structures come in pairs with each part of this system duplicated in the opposite half of the brain.

These limbic system structures include the thalamus, the hypothalamus, and the hippocampus. The thalamus is like the gatekeeper for messages passed between the spinal cord and the cerebral hemispheres. The hypothalamus is the structure that controls emotions, regulates temperature and controls urges like eating and sleeping. The hippocampus sends memories to be stored in the appropriate sections of the cerebrum, and it can recall memories as needed.

The Risks of Low Blood Oxygen in the Brain

Oxygen Levels and Brain FunctionBecause the brain uses about 25 percent of your oxygen intake, supplying it with enough oxygen is essential. For people with chronic lung diseases, getting enough oxygen is difficult. When the brain doesn’t receive the amount of oxygen it needs, cerebral hypoxia can occur.

Cerebral hypoxia, also known as brain hypoxia, is a serious medical condition that can be caused by smoke inhalation, carbon monoxide poisoning, choking, cardiac arrest, drowning, stroke and other conditions.

The symptoms of cerebral hypoxia can be mild to severe, and include:

Mild Symptoms:

  • Poor judgment
  • Decline in cognition
  • Uncoordinated movement

Severe Symptoms:

  • Complete unawareness and unresponsiveness
  • Pupils do not react to light
  • Respiratory Failure

Cerebral hypoxia requires immediate emergency treatment to restore the flow of oxygen to the brain. If you suspect cerebral hypoxia, call 911.

Benefits of Maximizing Oxygen Levels and Brain Function

The brain requires a steady amount of glucose and oxygen to function properly, so finding ways to increase its oxygen levels could help. Keep the air at home fresh and clean by adding plants to naturally increase oxygen. Consider natural air purifiers such as salt lamps, peace lilies and bamboo charcoal. Having plants in the home can reduce carbon dioxide levels while increasing oxygen levels.

When you’re calm, breathing becomes easier and stress levels are lower. Deep breathing, meditation and positive thinking exercises are good ways to help you relax. Exercise also increases the oxygen in your blood. Walking, yoga and Tai Chi are effective forms of gentle exercise.

Proper hydration and nutrition can help improve oxygen levels. For example, eating antioxidants helps the body maintain the proper amount of blood oxygen. Try eating blueberries, cranberries, artichoke hearts, blackberries and strawberries.

Oxygen Levels and Brain FunctionBecause items such as stoves, portable propane heaters, charcoal grills, automobile engines and anything that burns coal, gasoline, kerosene, oil, propane or wood can produce carbon monoxide, it’s important to have a carbon monoxide alarm and detector.

Stem cell therapy for chronic lung diseases promotes healing of lung tissue from within the body. After treatment at the Lung Institute, many patients are able to come off their oxygen. Check out more of their stories here. We’re here to help you, so feel free to contact us at (800) 729-3065.

Remember to discuss any questions, concerns and symptoms with your doctor, as well as diet and exercise before starting or changing your treatment plan. Oxygen levels and brain function go hand-in-hand. When your brain has enough oxygen, your body functions better, and you’ll feel better. As your blood oxygen levels improve, you might notice improved cognitive function, better balance and an overall improvement to your health.

Learn more about Oxygen and You below:


  1. PB

    1 month ago

    Dear Prabhakaran,

    First and foremost, we’re sorry to hear about the challenges you have been facing. Because of the complexities of many diseases, it’s best to discuss your questions with your doctor. Because your doctor knows you and your health well, he or she will be able to guide you best. We wish you the best.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  2. Prabhakaran

    1 month ago

    I suffering with speech difficulty, but others misunderstands as I’m having Stutter,
    But I doubted as speech difficulty is caused by my brain oxygen level.
    because I feel my heart beat at my back-head while I lying down. then also my heat beat is so abnormal.
    pls let me know, what type of problem is this?
    should I get treatment for heart or brain?

  3. PB

    3 months ago

    Dear Rudy,

    Thank you for your comment and for your service to our country. We’re sorry to hear that you have gone through so much with pneumonia. Many people with lung disease have challenges with recurrent lung infections as well. Unfortunately, at this time, insurance companies and Medicare don’t cover treatment. However, we’re hopeful that treatment will be covered by insurance companies and Medicare in the near future. Keep in mind that it will take some time before the insurance companies see a financial benefit in their favor and then decide to cover it. In the meantime, you can learn more about stem cell treatment options and have your questions answered by one of our patient coordinators. Feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 for more information. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  4. rudy cegielski

    3 months ago

    I smoked for 50 years; and eventually was hospitalized with multiple versions of pneumonia. After a series of “washes”, and anti-biotics got rid of it. Currently, on a 3/times a day nebulizer and “dust” products…..I have regained my 40 lb weight loss, and feel OK…….MY o2 level ranges from 93-96, but I am limited in activity due to exhaustion……I am told being 80; I am doing good…I still take too many naps, and get winded too fast…..I am retired USAF, and have medicare and tricare….any suggestions

  5. PB

    3 months ago

    Dear Renate,

    First and foremost, we’re sorry to hear about the difficulties you have been having with COPD, bronchitis, pneumonia and hospitalizations. You’ve already taken a very important step by quitting smoking. Keep in mind that secondhand smoke is also an irritant to the lungs, and it’s best to avoid it as much as possible. Because COPD affects everyone differently, some people have symptoms that include problems with blood oxygen levels, and some people have symptoms that do not have as many problems with blood oxygen levels. However, it’s important to continue to see your doctor regularly so that you can discuss your questions, concerns and frustrations with him or her. Your doctor will likely want to keep a close eye on your blood oxygen levels, because as COPD progresses, your oxygen levels could change. For some tips on ways to clear the lungs, check out this article by clicking here. Remember to discuss this with your doctor before changing your current treatment plan. We’re happy to answer any questions you have regarding stem cell treatment options, so feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149. We hope this information is helpful, and we look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  6. Renate

    3 months ago

    I am quite frustrated, little history….was a daily smoker, (quit 2 months ago) still live with smoker. Several years Have had bouts with bronchitis n pneumonia, just out of hospitals diagnosed with COPD. However, my oxygen levels stay between 93 – 95, however bronchial tubes remain highly congested, level of exertion is low, get light headed n exhausted easily. Doing nebulizer 3x’s a data. albuterol twice, acetylcysteine 1x. Frustration why is oxygen levels fine but still have all other illnesses?

  7. PB

    4 months ago

    Dear Ann,

    Thanks for your comment. We’re glad to hear you found this information helpful and useful. Remember to talk with your doctor about ways to keep the air clean as well. He or she may also have some recommendations about purifiers and plants that would work best for you. We wish you the best.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  8. Ann M Zumbluskas

    4 months ago

    I feel the information in regards to natural ways of getting enough oxygen from having plants and purifiers to help keep air cleaner was a lot of help to me especially plants in the treatment of emp, COPD and chronic bronchitis. I am going get a couple of plants and natural purifiers to help with my EMP and COPD.

  9. Pingback: Lung Institute | Oxygen and Brain Damage

  10. Betty

    5 months ago

    This is important.

Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

* 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.

All claims made regarding the efficacy of Lung Institute's treatments as they pertain to pulmonary conditions are based solely on anecdotal support collected by Lung Institute. Individual conditions, treatment and outcomes may vary and are not necessarily indicative of future results. Testimonial participation is voluntary. Lung Institute does not pay for or script patient testimonials.

Under current FDA guidelines and regulations 1271.10 and 1271.15, the Lung Institute complies with all necessary requirements for operation. Any individual who accesses Lung Institute's website for information is encouraged to speak with his or her primary physician for treatment suggestions and conclusive evidence. All information on this site should be used for educational and informational use only.