Wondering what your blood oxygen saturation level is—and how you can measure it? Let's go through a series of basic Q&As about this vital sign.
What is pulse oximetry?
Pulse oximetry is a noninvasive method that enables the measurement of a person’s blood oxygen saturation, which is often referred to as SpO2 or “The Fifth Vital Sign” (the first 4 being your pulse, temperature, blood pressure and respiratory rate).
What is SpO2, a.k.a. blood oxygen saturation?
It is a percentage that reflects the level of oxygen available in your blood.
Why do doctors use it?
Pulse oximetry is a method doctors use for rapid assessment and monitoring of a patient’s respiratory function. It is also used to determine which patients might be suffering from hypoxia and should take additional tests.
"Everybody can benefit from tracking their SpO2 themselves"
Self-tracking your blood oxygen level?
Until recently doctors were the only ones to use pulse oximeters, generally in a clinical setting. But as these tools are now more common (understand “smaller and cheaper”) self-tracking your SpO2 has become a reality.
In fact, everybody can benefit from tracking their SpO2 themselves. Being a healthy young man or woman doesn’t mean that you won’t benefit from a preventive tracking of respiratory problems—checking your blood oxygenation can provide you with an early warning sign (plus you’ll have a history of measurements to show your doctor, which they are likely to welcome).
If you are a mountain climber or an athlete training in high altitude to boost your endurance, measuring your blood oxygen saturation is very relevant as it can bring to light potentially life-threatening hypoxic conditions. This easy-to-use method is also great for people affected by a wide variety of chronic illnesses, including asthma and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) as it helps them quickly assess the severity of their condition.
How should SPO2 readings be interpreted?
Your SpO2 is considered to be normal when it is above 95%. If it is around or under 92% your blood contains an abnormally low level of oxygen, and we recommend you talk about it with your doctor.
When should I measure my SpO2?
You can measure your blood oxygen level at rest, during, or after physical activities.
Hopefully this list of SpO2-related frequently asked questions quenched your thirst for knowledge about your Blood Oxygen Level!