Normal oxygen levels are 92-94% at an elevation of 5,000 feet and >96% at sea level. Thus, at 5,000 feet, a level of 92% would be consider normal, while at sea level this same reading would be considered low (but not harmful), and probably an indicator of some type of respiratory problem.
Your level of 85% is definitely low, at any altitude. If allowed to persist, this low level of oxygen could eventually have a harmful effect on your major organs, including the brain and the heart. The stress on the heart, especially in people with coronary artery disease or those prone to have high blood pressure in the lungs, can lead to heart failure. Using supplemental oxygen to maintain a normal level of oxygen can prevent this.
It is most important that the cause of your low level of oxygen be identified and treated, with the administration of oxygen while lying down and/or sleeping, if necessary. A common cause of low oxygen levels while sleeping is obstructive sleep apnea. A sleep study would determine if this is the problem.
Everything I've read & heard suggests that our oxygen level should remain at or above 90 at all times, to avoid organ (particularly heart) damage. You need to work with your doctor to make sure that your oxygen needs are being met at all times. Many folks with lung conditions need supplemental oxygen, particularly while sleeping and/or exercising. I'm sure the NJC nurse will have more & better info. There's also info about supplemental oxygen on the www.NationalJewish.org website, as a MedFact. Best of luck!
Starion--thriving in HI
Dear Wildfire Girl & Friends,
I believe it is quite common for those of us with lung conditions to have oxygen saturation rates which are in the mid to lower 90s and fluctuate a bit. I believe it's normal for everyone's oxygen levels to fluctuate a bit, depending on your exertion level and whether you're awake or asleep, as well as any breathing exercises and techniques. As I mentioned earlier, I believe the concern is when your numbers go below 90, particularly on a regular basis. This is when you increase your risk of permanent organ (particularly heart) damage. I'm sure the LungLine nurse at National Jewish can provide more and better information than I have.
Starion--thriving in HI (with fluctuating oxygen levels)
I JUST CAME HOME FROM BEING TESTED FOR SLEEP APNIA. DURING THE TESTING I DID NOT NEED THE C PAC BUT AFTERWARDS WAS TOLDD THAT MY OXYGEN LEVEL WAS 65% WHICH IS VERY LOW. IF I DON'T HAVE SLEEP APNIA WHAT WOULD CAUSE THIS ?
Katie, 65% Oxygen level at night is serious. I have been on a C-Pap since 1992 and the last apnea test l 1/2 years ago my oxygen level was 80% (I am on oxygen 24 hours a day now because of lung disease). Normally, even though they told you what your oxygen level went to during the night, they might not determine that you have sleep apnea until the doctor reads the results. Usually, that takes a few weeks.
I hope you find out soon because such a low oxygen level puts the rest of your body under stress.
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