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Oxygen Saturation Levels: What Do They Mean, and What Can You Do?

20 Jan 2018
| Under Disease Education, Medical, Oxygen Levels | Posted by | 11 Comments
Oxygen Saturation Levels: What Do They Mean, and What Can You Do?

Understanding your oxygen saturation levels is the key to better respiratory health. 

When it comes to living with a chronic lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis or emphysema, understanding one’s disease and all the metrics that influence it are critical to managing one’s health. These metrics can be lung function, lung capacity and blood oxygen saturation levels.

So, what does blood oxygen saturation actually mean? In short, blood oxygen saturation is the amount of oxygen within a blood cell. The importance of this concept rests on the fact that higher levels of blood cell oxygen saturation will ultimately permit easier breathing and reduced shortness of breath. Though the symptoms of COPD and other lung diseases can be addressed through a variety of natural treatment options, understanding one’s personal health is imperative to health management and decision making moving forward.

With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to give you the information you need on Oxygen Saturation Levels: What Do They Mean, and What Can You Do?

Oxygen Saturation Levels: What Are They?

As we mentioned, oxygen saturation levels are the amount of oxygen your blood cells retain. To put this in perspective, imagine a subway network. The tunnels are your veins, the subway train is your blood, the individual cars are your blood cells and the people inside are oxygen. As the subway train travels from station to station spreading oxygen throughout the body, oxygen saturation represents the amount of oxygen (in this case people) that are within each car.

Under the best case scenario, each individual car is packed full of people. However, for those with COPD and other lung diseases, these cars can be a bit lighter than normal, or perhaps some of the cars are empty. In this sense, oxygen saturation levels show how efficiently your body is utilizing oxygen and can be used to give insight on its delivery throughout the body.

What Do Oxygen Saturation Levels Mean?

Oxygen Saturation Levels: What Do They Mean, and What Can You Do?

As a predictor of how oxygen-rich your blood cells are, oxygen saturation can be a key identifier in your respiratory health. This data can be instrumental in determining when to get help as the oxygen saturation level (measured as SpO2 or SaO2) can serve as a direct comparison to more standard, healthier saturation levels.

What Can You Do About Oxygen Saturation Levels?

Although a low blood oxygen level can have varying effects on your health, it is possible to improve your blood oxygen levels through direct means. For starters, the use of supplemental oxygen can temporarily have an effect on oxygenating your blood cells to improve their capacity to retain oxygen. Further still, the foods you consume can have a significant effect on increasing the available oxygen your blood cells can use. By making subtle changes to your diet, improving your body through exercise and using supplemental oxygen when needed, it’s possible to lift your blood oxygen levels and ultimately reduce feelings of shortness of breath.

Although your blood oxygen saturation levels are directly correlated with your feelings of shortness of breath, immediate treatment is critical to slowing the progression of the disease itself while bringing symptom relief. Although traditional treatment options and surgery can address disease symptoms and disease progression, they are not without their risks. While cellular therapy is novel in its use, it has shown significant effects in treating symptoms as well as disease progression, serving as a natural alternative with nearly zero adverse side effects.

Moving Forward

Oxygen Saturation Levels: What Do They Mean, and What Can You Do?

The best treatment for COPD is knowledge and prevention. Though COPD can seem impossible to overcome, new discoveries are being made every day in the field of cellular research. Changing one’s diet and consistently exercising are among the best lifestyle changes one can do aside from quitting smoking. 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. Cellular therapy may directly affect disease progression and may improve quality of life and pulmonary function. For people with lung disease, a change in quality of life could mean the difference between missing your grandchild’s graduation and standing in the front-row.

If you or a loved one suffers from a chronic disease like ILD, COPD, pulmonary fibrosis or other symptoms of lung disease, the Lung Institute may be able to help with a variety of adult cellular therapy options. Contact us today at (800) 729-3065 to see if you qualify for cellular therapy, and find out what cellular therapy could mean for you.

Interested in our article on Oxygen Saturation Levels: What Do They Mean, and What Can You Do? Share your thoughts and comments below.


  1. Lung Institute

    6 months ago


    Thank you for your comment.

    We would suggest talking with your primary doctor or specialist to determine what may have caused the lowered oxygen level and to discuss what steps may need to be taken.

    Our dedicated medical team has a wealth of knowledge about cellular therapy, treatment options, candidacy, cost and more. We’re happy to answer your questions, so feel free to give us a call at (855) 313-1149. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


    The Lung Institute

  2. Kathy

    6 months ago

    I have never smoked, am 64 and generally healthy. I use a cpap nightly. I have just been told after an overnight pulse oximeter test, that my oxygen level was 85. What do you think is next, to correct THIS?

  3. Lung Institute

    9 months ago


    Thank you for your comment. Your primary care physician will be the best resource in being able to interpret your test results. Please consult with your physician, who will help you to better understand the results, and what they mean for you.

    -Lung Institute

  4. Josephine

    9 months ago

    I had blood tests done RECENTLy and my SATURATIONs were 16.7,
    I am 76 years old, is that very low for my age?
    I do have COPD though
    A reply would be appreciated

  5. Phoebe

    12 months ago

    Dear Fred,

    Typically, the easiest way to know your oxygen saturation level is through using a pulse oximeter. A pulse oximeter looks like a finger clip, and it is a painless test. Another way your doctor may assess your oxygen saturation level is through an arterial blood gas test, which is a type of blood test that your doctor would have to order. In general, pulse oximetry provides an accurate oxygen saturation level. Typically, a healthy person will have an oxygen saturation level between 95 and 100 percent. If you are ever confused by or concerned about your pulse oximeter readings, it’s very important to talk with your doctor. To read more about pulse oximetry, click here.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  6. Fred

    1 year ago

    does Your reference to oxygen saturation level relate to the results reflected on the oximeter? Using the finger oximeter, my level is CONSTANTLY between 97 and 98. Is that good or does it have any bearing on my saturation level?

  7. M R

    1 year ago

    Hello Rita,
    Thank you for your question. The numbers are broad generalizations and there are many different diagnostic measurements to determining whether a patient needs supplemental oxygen. This is further complicated by the many different types of lung diseases. It’s best to go by the recommendations of your pulmonologist or primary care physician.
    Thanks again and have a great day.

  8. M R

    1 year ago

    Hello Darlene,
    Thank you for your questions. The Lung Institute operates five clinics across the U.S. in Pittsburgh, Nashville, Tampa, Dallas and Scottsdale. The cost of treatment depends on which treatment option is selected. In order to know which treatment option is best, more medical information is needed. Please give us a call at (855) 313-1149 and one of our patient coordinators can go over everything with you. Click here to learn more about some lung healthy alternatives to your favorite foods. Thanks again and have a great day.

  9. Rita Farrell

    1 year ago

    You state that 92 or below is considered oxygen deprivation. I was told by an occuptional therapist that my reading of 92 while doing a walking test of 340 meterd was very good so i would not need oxygen. I have stage 3 to 4 COPD. Does that sound right? Iiving in Ireland so cell is out of the question on distance and finance.

  10. Darlene

    1 year ago

    How much does stem therapy cost and is there a lung institute in Chicago and what kinds of food help your breathing.

  11. ronelle hall

    1 year ago

    I quit smoking almost a year ago, Feb. 2016. I am 70 and smoked since I was 12. I also have heated my house with wood for 32 years. I had no sever problem breathing and taking care of my mini horse ranch until I quit smoking and then I have gone down like a boom. I know I need oxygen and told my Dr. I after rest in his office walked 30 feet and my oxygen level went from 94 to 93. Dr. said I could not qualify for oxygen therepy until my oxygen level was below 88. Is this true? I seriously feel oxygen deprived most of the time unless sitting. I have tried Advair, To many side effects, I just use my Albuteral rescue inhaler. I am waiting for all the hoops I must jump through first to see a lung specialist, hopefully It will be soon. I can’t afford cell therapy as insurance does not cover it but it does sound like a good option for someone like me. This is my comment for what it is worth. Thanks for all the information you have made available for me and others to learn about our disease.

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