We are witnessing the worst pandemic situation in the form of coronavirus scare. The cases are increasing sharply and that is leading to massive chaos in hospitals. The condition of many people is getting critical need immediate admission to hospitals and requiring critical care. One of the major concerns is acute shortage of medical-grade oxygen supply that is causing deaths around the nation. A lot of patients and caregivers are unable to identify the warning signs of low oxygen levels that lead to the worsening of their condition. Considering the current situation, we all should know the signs and symptoms of low SpO2 or low oxygen levels.
What is blood oxygen level?
SpO2 is an oxygen saturation percentage that indicates blood oxygen level. It is the amount of oxygen that is present in your blood and being circulated to the body parts. Red blood cells gather oxygen from the lungs, carry it and then supply it to all body parts. Blood oxygen level is an indication that all the cells are getting sufficient oxygen and there is no shortage. The SpO2 level shows how proper is oxygen supply from the lungs to RBCs and how well your body parts are getting oxygen. Low SpO2 count means poor oxygen circulation that may be alarming.
Here are the ranges of blood oxygen levels:
- Normal Range- 75-100 mm Hg
- Low Range- Below 70 mm Hg
While below 70% SpO2 is considered to below, if the saturation level drops below 60%, it is critical. This could be hypoxemia where the cells, tissues and organs aren’t getting the required amount of oxygen. In such a case, the person needs to be immediately attended to by a doctor. They would suggest the best possible treatment to revive their blood oxygen level.
Symptoms of low SpO2 or blood oxygen levels
Here are the signs and symptoms of low SpO2 that a person may experience:
- Rapid breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- High blood pressure or fluctuating blood pressure
- Rapid heartbeat
- Visual disorders
- Confusion and loss of concentration
Oxygen Support for Low Blood Oxygen Level
In coronavirus context, what should be the ideal SpO2 percentage of a covid patient? For normal healthy people, 70 mm Hg is the deadline and if the percent falls below, one should consult doctor. Whereas, in the case of a COVID-positive patient, the reading shouldn’t fall below 91. If it does, they should be monitored. The problem of oxygen scarcity is because people have stored oxygen cylinders at home for emergency use even if they really don’t need them. There are many other options such as prone positioning that can help in restoring oxygen levels back to normal. This is a safe and effective medium to normalise blood oxygen saturation. If the person is not responding to these at-home remedies and the oxygen level continues to remain low for hours, immediate medical aid should be provided. This is particularly for people who have respiratory distress or lung complications or the elderly whose health may deteriorate due to poor oxygen supply. Not everyone requires oxygen support and this is said by AIIMS Director Dr. Randeep Guleria. Just watch your oxygen levels and if you see symptoms for a long stretch, consult a specialist.
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