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Oxygen Levels: What Do My Numbers Mean?

22 May 2017
| Under Lifestyle, Lung Disease, Medical, Oxygen Levels | Posted by | 12 Comments
Oxygen Levels: What Do My Numbers Mean?

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
  • confusion
  • headache
  • rapid heartbeat
  • possible cyanosis (blue discoloration of the nail beds, skin and mucus membranes)

Methods that May Improve My Oxygen Levels

Oxygen Levels: What Do My Numbers Mean?

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.

To start:

  • 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.

For more tips on improving your oxygen levels check out our 5 Tips for Improving Low Blood Oxygen Levels here, as well as the article on 5 Ways to Improve Your Oxygen Levels.

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 cellular therapy. Rather than addressing the symptoms of lung disease, cellular therapy may directly affect disease progression and may improve quality of life.

For more information on cellular 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.

Interested in our article on Oxygen Levels: What Do My Numbers Mean? Share your thoughts and comments below.


  1. Phoebe

    11 months ago

    Hi Jack,

    In order to determine if someone is a candidate for cellular treatment, we need to gather the person’s medical history. To do that, we must talk with the person one-on-one over our secure phone line to ensure that the patient’s private medical history is safe and follows all safety protocols. Treatment cost varies depending on treatment type. So, once we determine if someone is a candidate for treatment, we are then able to discuss which treatment option could best suit the person’s individual needs. We’re happy to answer your questions about cells, treatment options, candidacy and cost, so feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 to speak with someone from our dedicated medical team. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  2. Jack

    11 months ago

    How is it you posted Joseph’s statement/question regarding the cost? I have copd, nedicare/florida medicaid; Seems to me, according to the way you dance around the cost issue, I do not qualify! If that be the issue, do you run clinical trials? JJB
    P.S. Eating one cove of raw garlic a day for about one year will restore the cilia on one’s lungs. This is from ancient, traditional Chinese Medicine.

  3. Phoebe

    11 months ago

    Hi David,

    At the Lung Institute, we treat people living with certain chronic lung diseases, such as COPD and pulmonary fibrosis among others. Chronic lung diseases affect everyone differently. To determine if someone is a candidate for treatment, more medical information is needed, which we can obtain during a phone call over our secure phone line. In general, many people see improvement between three and six months after treatment. There are some people who say they saw improvements sooner. As with any medical procedure, there are some people who don’t see the improvements they hoped to see. Some people decide to return for booster treatments to help continue the progress they have made. Treatment cost varies depending on treatment type. We’re happy to answer your questions and to help determine if you’re a candidate for treatment. So, feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 to speak one-on-one with our dedicated medical team. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  4. David Garcia

    11 months ago

    I have Sorcodosis . Will this treatment work and for how long will it work. Do i have to go back and how many times will i have to get this done. The most important question is HOW much per cession?

  5. Phoebe

    11 months ago

    Hi Marsha,

    Everyone is different, so it’s very important to discuss your questions and concerns about eating foods that contain sulfites with your doctor. In general, for people with sensitivities or allergies to sulfites, even naturally occurring sulfites may cause problems. This happens because some people’s bodies are more sensitive to sulfites in a similar way that some people are sensitive to lactose in dairy milk. People who are allergic or sensitive to certain foods may experience a variety of symptoms, including stomach problems, breathing problems, rash and others. However, there are many people who are not allergic or sensitive to sulfites, and eating shrimp and drinking wine in moderation is fine for them.

    Again, we recommend discussing these questions about sulfites and breathing problems with your doctor as soon as possible. Because your doctor knows you and your health situation well, he or she will be able to best answer your questions and guide you.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  6. Phoebe

    11 months ago

    Hi Elizabeth,

    A doctor orders an arterial blood gas test (ABG test) to measure the amount of oxygen and other gases in your blood. It helps doctors determine whether or not you need oxygen therapy. A trained phlebotomist (someone who is trained to draw blood) draws a blood sample that will be sent to a lab for further testing. After the testing it complete, the lab sends the test results to your doctor. If your doctor has order an ABG test and you feel worried about it, it’s very important to share that with your doctor.

    At the Lung Institute, we don’t perform ABG tests. Our cell procedures are minimally invasive and outpatient. We work hard to make the patient as comfortable as possible throughout the entire process. We’re happy to answer your questions about cellular therapy. Feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  7. Marsha Cummings

    11 months ago

    I have read that you should avoid eating shrimp because they contAin sulfiTeS. Wine contains sulfites aLso and cause problems breatHing. Is this correct???

  8. Elizabeth Rabon

    11 months ago

    The cellular treatment sounds interesting but I’m terrified of having a abg I know it is the most painful procedure that anyone can have done

  9. Phoebe

    11 months ago

    Hi Sherry,

    You’re absolutely right. Some people have good blood oxygen levels but still experience shortness of breath. If you’re finding it difficult to breathe, it’s important to tell your doctor. Your doctor may order some tests or prescribe medications to help you breathe easier.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  10. Phoebe

    11 months ago

    Hi Joseph,

    We’re happy to answer you’re questions about cellular treatment for chronic lung diseases. We have a dedicated medical team who have a wealth of knowledge about cellular therapy, treatment options, candidacy and cost. So, feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  11. Joseph

    11 months ago

    You neglect to mention who qualifies for cellular treatment. in other words How much money does it cost!

  12. Sherry

    11 months ago

    WHat most people dont understAnd is your O2 level may be good but that doesnt mean you can breathe gOod

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.

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