With the spread of COVID-19 over the past year, we’ve all started paying more attention to different aspects of our health. For some, they know instantly if they feel feverish or may feel concerned if they wake up in the morning and have a bit of a cough. For others, they’ve started checking things like their blood oxygen levels, even if they are not sick. With Apple Watches adding this feature to the new series, it’s easier than ever to keep an eye on that and make sure your levels are where they should be.
We all know they need to be at a certain level for us to be considered healthy and oxygenated, but you may not realize what the implications of low blood oxygen are. With COVID patients, it was considered a warning sign to get to the hospital, even if you felt fine otherwise.
What is Low Blood Oxygen?
Low blood oxygen, also called hypoxemia, is when oxygen levels in the blood are lower than normal. Since most of us are not medical professionals, you may be wondering what the normal range for oxygen levels in your blood is. Normal is anywhere between 75 and 100 millimeters of mercury. Anything lower than 60 is considered low, and you should go see your doctor if you get a reading in that range. Essentially, if you are in a low category, your body is struggling to deliver oxygen to your essential organs, for some reason.
What Causes Low Blood Oxygen?
Low blood oxygen can have a variety of causes, from heart disease to lung problems to pneumonia and even high altitude. There is a myriad of causes of it, some you may be aware you have, while others may be something undiagnosed. It’s very important to get checked out by a doctor if you have low blood oxygen so they can determine what underlying factor is causing it. This is not something generally caused by itself, and there is usually an underlying disease behind it.
Symptoms of Low Blood Oxygen
Now that you have an idea of what it is and what causes it, you may be wondering what the symptoms are. Depending on how low it is, some people may have no symptoms, whereas others may experience one or more of the following:
- Shortness of breath
- High blood pressure
- Rapid breathing
- Chest pain
- Lack of coordination
- Rapid heartbeat
- Sense of disorientation
Having any of these symptoms could be worrying, so it’s imperative you see a doctor, especially if you are having chest pain or rapid heartbeat.
Treatment of hypoxemia consists of supplemental oxygen, to help bring your levels back up. From there, your doctor needs to understand what is causing it. If you are aware of any illnesses you already have, make sure to share that with your doctor, as that could explain things. If not, your doctor will need to run tests to determine what could be causing it, aside from obvious factors like being at a high altitude or having an illness like COVID or pneumonia.