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Pulse Oximeter Observations

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Getting a pulse oximeter has helped me to take care of my POTSman a bit better. I'm aware that in his case, the oxygen level in the blood of his fingertip might not be the same in his brain, let me explain..

His usual oxygen saturation levels:

Sitting and standing: 94-96

Supine: 90-94

After waking up: 87-90

Exercise: 84-90

Acrocyanotic blue toe: 97

Red pooling hand: 96

Leg slightly elevated when supine: 86

Observations: he wakes up feeling horrible, oxygen starved. But when he lays down to rest from daily activities, he starts to feel better, even if his O2 drops! High oxygen reading doesn't mean that he feels good. Red hot pooling and feet turning cold blue doesn't mean lack of peripheral oxygen, this surprised me the most! Even a slight elevation of a limb lowers its' oxygen drastically (I put the oximeter on his toe to measure this). I had to raise my own leg to a 90 degree angle to witness a slow drop, and I have bad circulation myself.

The important lession for me was seeing his low oxygen in the morning, something has to be done!

Have you had similar readings?

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I haven't checked mine in these various situations but you have peaked my curiosity. Especially morning levels. I plan to check this as I always wake with a headache that often feels better after moving around etc...  I have had times when I am struggling to breathe and feel terrible and my pulse ox reads 98. I will report back.

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  • 6 months later...

My lung function tests were fine, my blood oxygen is sometimes as high as 98%, but when I am just sitting around it is 90 to 94%

When I fall asleep however, I find myself awaking with a start as I forget to breathe. Worst was in deep sleep where I forgot to breath so had a nightmare I couldn't breathe and the ambulance wouldn't get here in time, fortunately I woke up so could take a breath.

Half the nights I wear my Oximeter I see my blood Oxygen average is 85%

Just sleeping Printing SpO2 Report.jpg

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Poor circulation to the extremities can make pulse oximeter readings look falsely low in volume deplete patients as we are peripherally shut down. Unless we have separate issues with the lungs/breathing, our blood is generally well oxygenated, there just isn't enough of it and/or it is not getting where it needs to go. The furthest parts from the heart ie hands, feet and brain fare the worst. 

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Guest KiminOrlando

Yes, they use it for surgery when I am lying down and the OR is freezing. My Reynaud's would get so bad the pulse ox meter used to stop working on my fingers and scare the OR staff. Fun times.... 

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The only way of knowing for sure what your blood oxygen level is with Arterial Blood Gasses, obviously that can't be done 24/7 so gives a very narrow picture. I was placed on oxygen for 2 years because doctors witnessed periods where my oxygen would drop down in the 70s but I never stayed there for longer than 5 minutes. When we finally got to a pulmonologist he said that what we were seeing was likely just from my unpredictable blood pressure causing inadequate profusion. However he did say that what we saw overnight was likely real as I have sleep apnea.  Sleep apnea can also affect daytime O2 levels.

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