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Anyone Have Issues With Oxygen Saturation?


Lackadaisy_baby
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I recently bought a pulse oximeter to keep track of my HR throughout the day, and I've noticed something odd. I was sitting on the couch with the oxi. on, and my SpO2 was holding steady at 98/99 for a good while. I was tired, so I started to doze off, only to snap awake a couple minutes later with my SpO2 at 94. It came back up to 99 within another couple minutes.

Now I know these things can give erroneous readings sometimes, so I experimented about 5 more times, letting myself start to fall asleep, making sure to not move my hand. Each time, my SpO2 dropped and came back up.

I know that anything between 95-100 is perfectly fine, and in reality 93/94 isn't dangerous either. But I also know that oximeters can be off by as much as 2-4%, so while I could have actually been still between 95-100, I could have just as easily been at 89.

I'm not anemic, so I don't have issues with low hemoglobin that could cause a drop. Maybe it's my breathing?

Anyone else have a similar experience?

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hiya,

my oxygen levels do the same and i was rather worried about it for ages, until i got the chance to chat to my autonomic doctor about it. she said not to worry about it, unless the levels stay below 94% for more than a few mins. she said some fluctuation is completely normal but potsies often get more drops due to our blood pooling and general problems with blood pressure & tachycardia - ie the faster the heart goes, and the more blood is pooled then less oxygen gets to the lungs to be moved to our fingers.

and she also said to be careful i dont hyperventilate as that tends to drop the oxygen %, and to make sure i breathe deeply and evenly (ie do belly breathing and not shoulder so the vast majority of my lungs are used. and cool fingers always read lower than they would do while warm, so if i get a very low reading i sit on my hands for a few mins and check again and its always much improved. i often notice that my stats are low if i dose off curled over or with my chin to my chest, i;m assuming cos it impedes breathing a little. i also have the tendency to hold my breath when i sleep but usually this wakes me up gasping for breath with a saturation in the 80's. luckily i only do this now and then so no action is needed at present (as i sleep walk and have night terrors so i'd be liable to destroy sleep apnea machinery).

i've also noticed that when i'm tired or i sing my saturation drops a long way in its little drops, as it does when my PoTS is proper playing up (although i'm usually very tired at the same time so i may not be breathing deep enough). i also occasionally stop breathing during the day when i'm proper focussed on a task and that drops my saturation to, so i'm pretty sure much of my saturation problems are related to breathing.

she also said that if it stays low i should seek medical help, but mine never stays down long enough, but basically if the drops fix themselves quite quickly then dont worry about it :). taking a few deep breaths nice and slowly tends to improve oxygen saturation very quickly, and gets rid of that horrid hypoxia headache.

fi

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Most people tend to breathe in a more shallow manner when they're asleep so it's not uncommon for the O2 sat to drop into the lower 90s. Unless people have lung diseases (like asthma or COPD) then they usually pop their O2 sats back up as soon as they wake up and take deeper breaths.

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I had 2 sleep studies. No obstructive sleep apnea but a few episodes of complex (not sure if that was exact word) apnea (a mixed cause) when the oxygen saturation dropped down to 84% for about 14 seconds. Because it did not happen so many frequencies throughout the sleep study, it was not considered to be anything abnormal. (Scarey to speculate what happens if it goes longer than 14 seconds or more times, so I don't think about it). I agree that some people take more shallow breaths when sleeping (since I don't get into the deep stages of sleep, I imagine my breathing is shallow). I have watched my baby, DGS and DH all different ages in their lives when they are sleeping and breathing is so shallow to make sure the chest is rising and falling.

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I had a sleep study done where I only got 2 and a half hours of sleep, but my doctor told me I don't have any sleep disorders. I wore an oxygen saturation thing on my finger and it tends to go to 94% while I'm sleeping. That's perfectly normal as your body requires less oxygen while you're sleeping (normal peoples heart rates will actually go into the low 50s or high 40s while asleep). However, if it starts going below 90% while you're asleep you should probably get that checked out.

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I get it especially at higher altitudes. I do have sleep apenea and have to use a CPAP, I also have to use an oxygen concentrator when I go higher. My levels go into and stay in the 80's. Not at all good. Sometimes, even at low altitude - I will have to go get a puff of oxygen because it will dip down with me being upright and alert. It's worse with sleep though. I think, it's just something to do with the autonomic system. My brain doesn't tell me to breathe. I know there are others who have the same issues on the forum - that I've talked with.

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Before I was diagnosed with POTS, I was under the care of a pulmonologist. At the time I thought I had asthma... Anyways, my O2 sats would drop to low 90's walking and mid 80's climbing stairs. That resulted in a prescription for supplemental oxygen! I used supplemental O2 for over a year, but started yoga and weaned off of it.

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I have problems with oxygen saturation and have done for about 4 / 5 years. Ive had all the tests which come back normal - however they only test you sitting down. My oxygen saturation plummets when I move around going up stairs will leave me gasping for breath for ten minutes.

I have home oxygen which I use a lot. I not only use it for low oxygen saturation but when I get bad headaches due to my bp being low. I find the oxygen helps get rid of the headache. In the UK they have started giving oxygen to patients who suffer with cluster migraines as they have found it reduces the pain.

One word of caution with pulse oximeters - POTS can give you cold extremities and drugs like midodrine take blood away from extremities. This will effect the accuracy of the pulse ox. Try and make sure that your hands are warm before using the pulse ox. Thats always a problem for me as my fingers are like blocks of ice all the time!

Rach

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I had low o2 on my overnight o2 monitor, dips into the low 80's they want a proper sleep study but hard without insurance, they said it's not OSA though.

Odd my doc was really worried and others here say they were told it was ok?!?

Shoegal, i think you might need a CPAP. 80% oxygen saturation doens't sound good.

Edited by corina
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Anyone have any research on the effects of long-term low O2 sat / low bp on the brain? Logic says it's not good, but does anyone have anything concrete to back up the suspicions?

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There have been cognitive impairments documented with people who have routine desaturations below 85%, now how long is significant, how often etc. I don't know, but it has also been shown that people who get on CPAP make a statistically significant recovery of their cognitive functions after a period of about 2-3 months.

As for low blood pressure I have no idea. My grandmother routinely runs at like 95/60 and her cognitive abilities are excellent.

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Like some others mentioned, in sleep apnea O2 levels drop during sleep. I have noted this myself but I still want to get tested.

I also have a pulseOX and I know that I can not get an accurate reading unless I hold it steady on a flat surface for a few minutes. So perhaps it just took awhile to get an accurate reading. I can tell on my when I see the heart meter bounce to a steady rhythm.

Also depends on the position of your hand whether you are getting enough blood to your finger get an accurate reading.

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  • 2 months later...

On the flip side of the coin if your pulse ox is always reading 100% that is a problem as well. The pulse ox just measures the oxygen saturation of your blood-- not the amount of blood. So for someone who is hypovolemic, their blood will most likely always be 100% saturated in order to carry as much oxygen as possible to their tissues.

With low saturations, other factors such as PVD can play a role as well.

The best way to really know what is going on is to get an arterial blood gas (ABG).

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