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?
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.
The best treatment for COPD is knowledge and prevention. Though COPD can seem impossible to overcome, new discoveries are being made every da. Changing one’s diet and consistently exercising are among the best lifestyle changes one can do aside from quitting smoking.
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.
Christine Kingsley, APRN is the Health and Wellness Director at the Lung Institute where she focuses on providing helpful online resources for people looking for information on various lung diseases, breathing exercises, and healthy lifestyle choices. She advocates for holistic care that involves working with your doctor to explore all options including traditional and alternative care while focusing on diet and exercise as proactive measures.