The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Oxygen levels don’t have to be confusing. Let’s make sense of them together.
Let’s start with the obvious: what are oxygen levels? And from there, what do they mean? If you live with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis (PF) or emphysema, oxygen levels are an undoubtedly important measurement, and here’s why: they allow you to measure how much oxygen your red blood cells are carrying.
Why is that important?
The importance behind this metric is that by measuring your blood oxygen levels, you can alter your behaviors and lifestyle to positively improve these levels and possibly help reduce your symptoms and feelings of breathlessness. In essence, the oxygen that is being carried by your red blood cells throughout your body allows your body to thrive and maintain homeostasis (when your body runs healthily). To aid in this process, the delivery of oxygen through red blood cells in your blood cells is vital.
So, how can I affect this?
There are a variety of ways to positively improve your blood oxygen levels to help relieve your symptom expression and boost your energy levels. And with your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to help by giving insight to your Oxygen Levels: What Do My Numbers Mean?
Oxygen Levels- An Overview
As we’ve mentioned above, the measurement of your oxygen levels is pretty important to your overall health. It allows you to adjust and change your behavior based on your oxygen levels for the betterment of your breathing and condition. But what are blood oxygen levels and what do they mean?
Here’s a quick anecdote:
Imagine for a second that your blood vessels make up a giant subway network. The tunnels of this network are your veins and the train itself is your blood. Multiple carts (your blood cells) make up the train, and the people inside them are oxygen. As this subway (again your blood) travels through the network (your body), it’s dropping people off at various stops within your body. The question, however, is how many people (oxygen) are in each car of the subway? And is there a way to pack more in them?
This fundamental scenario is blood oxygen saturation in a nut shell and explains the importance of your body’s ability to retain oxygen within your red blood cells. In short, you want each of these cells jam packed with oxygen for delivery throughout your body to maintain and boost your energy levels and overall health.
So, What’s Normal and What Isn’t?
Your body’s oxygen levels can be measured using a variety of different techniques:
- Arterial blood gas test (ABG)—which measures your blood’s oxygen level by drawing blood.
- Pulse oximetry—which places a clip device on your finger and measures O2 levels.
A normal ABG blood oxygen level for healthy lungs will usually fall between 80 and 100 millimeters. If using a pulse oximeter, this reading should typically be between 95 and 100 percent.
In the case of severe COPD on the other hand, an expected pulse oximetry level is likely to be between 88 to 92 percent. Some people’s oxygen level measurements may be lower.
When your blood oxygen level gets too low (hypoxemia), there are several symptoms that you will be able to recognize:
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- rapid heartbeat
- possible cyanosis (blue discoloration of the nail beds, skin and mucus membranes)
Methods that May Improve My Oxygen Levels
Thankfully, to combat low blood oxygen levels there are several ways to raise them. First, if your blood oxygen level is particularly low, it may be wise to consider getting on supplemental oxygen therapy if your doctor hasn’t already prescribed it. In addition, always talk with your doctor about your oxygen level questions and concerns.
Adding to this, by raising the amounts of hemoglobin within the body through the ingestion of specific foods, it’s possible to positively impact your blood oxygen levels. When your body has the nutrients it needs, it has a better ability to deliver oxygen more efficiently as well.
- Eat Shrimp—they are a good low calorie protein and filled with important vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants.
- Have an Orange—there are several things to love about the orange, particularly orange juice. The bonus is that they’re excellent sources of fiber, vitamin C and other critical acids and nutrients.
- Drink Some Almond Milk– Vitamin D is important, but so is avoiding any excessive phlegm build-up. Instead, pick up some almond milk. It tastes better and won’t leave you as gassy or bloated.
Moving Forward with Your Oxygen Levels
Living with a chronic lung disease like COPD, pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema doesn’t have to be as difficult as it may seem. By taking the time to better understand your disease and how to address issues such as your blood oxygen level, it’s possible to improve your overall health and quality of life. Although these steps can be difficult as they require changing personal behavior from diet and exercise to your medication, change is possible.
With a few behavioral changes, it’s possible to greatly affect the pronouncement of symptoms within those with COPD, emphysema and pulmonary fibrosis. However, when lifestyle changes fail to improve your quality of life in the way that you may expect, it may be time to consider stem cell therapy. Rather than addressing the symptoms of lung disease, stem cell therapy may directly affect disease progression and may improve quality of life.
For more information on stem cell therapy and what it could mean for your life moving forward, contact us today or call us at (800) 729-3065. Our patient coordinators will walk you through our available treatment options, talk through your current health and medical history and determine a qualifying treatment plan that works best for you.
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