Blood Oxygen Saturation Monitors

Blood oxygen levels can be measured with a device called a finger tip pulse oximeter or Sp02 meter [pulse oximeter oxygen saturation]. The device is placed on the finger and uses light absorption to measure the level of saturated hemoglobin. Normal blood oxygen levels are considered to be 95-100%. Oxygen levels down to 90% are common and are not usually a cause for alarm. If the level is below 90% it is considered low and is called hypoxemia. Blood oxygen saturation levels of less than 80% are likely to compromise organ function such as the brain or heart. Persistent low blood oxygen levels may cause the vessels in the lungs to narrow. The increased resistance to blood flow in the lungs causes stain on the heart. Both the heart rate and respiration rate is increased. Over time the right side of the heart expands and weakens. This right sided heart failure is known as Cor Pulmonale.

Low Oxygen Blood Levels (Hypoxemia) is when there is not enough oxygen in the blood. Hypoxemia may be caused by low environmental oxygen levels, impairment of the oxygen diffusion across the cell membrane, alveolar hypoventilation and ventilation-perfusion inequality. Ventilation-perfusion inequality is common in people with respiratory diseases such as asthma, COPD, sleep apnea, emphysema, acute respiratory distress syndrome or interstitial lung disease. It can also occur in people with cardiac problems where the cardiac output is insufficient.

Keep fit enthusiasts may well wish to monitor their blood oxygen saturation levels. Good O2 levels will allow your body to deliver enough oxygen to your muscles in order for them to function properly. Poor oxygen levels may result in fatigue, dizziness and lethargy. At altitude your blood oxygen saturation levels may be low. If you are exercising strenuously, they may be higher as your body requires more oxygen. By understanding your SPO2 levels at rest, you can improve your recovery from exercise.

Cigarette smoking reduces blood oxygen levels even in the absence of lung disease. Cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide (CO), which competes with oxygen to bind with the hemoglobin of the red blood cell. hemoglobin saturated with CO (carbon monoxide) or oxygen cannot be differentiated with a pulse oximeter. Cigarette smokers may therefore record normal oxygen levels when they are in fact low.

Research also shows that obesity can have a dramatic effect on blood oxygen saturation levels (obesity induced hypoventilation).

Are you suffering from low blood oxygen saturation levels?

Hypoxemia should not be ignored, as the consequences can be serious. Here are a few of the tell tale signs of hypoxemia; if you are suffering from any of these symptoms over a prolonged period, please consult your doctor.


Memory Loss and reduction in cognitive performance - If you find yourself frequently having difficulty concentrating or suffering from short-term memory loss you may be suffering from poor blood oxygen saturation levels. This is because the amount oxygen available to your brain is limited, decreasing cognitive function.

Fatigue - It is difficult to attribute fatigue solely to hypoxemia because the reasons for suffering from fatigue and tiredness may be as simple as not getting enough sleep. Hypoxemia should be considered when fatigue is seen in conjunction with other symptoms of hypoxemia.

Shortness of Breath - Shortness of breath is an obvious symptom of low blood oxygen saturation levels. This symptom may not be obvious initially and may be present only during physical exertion, when shortness of breath could be due to a lack of physical fitness. Hypoxemia should be considered when shortness of breath is seen in conjunction with other symptoms of hypoxemia.. If shortness of breath is present during both activity and rest you may be suffering from a more serious case of hypoxemia. Please consult your GP as soon as possible.

Headaches - Headaches have many causes. It is therefore difficult to attribute the cause of headaches solely to hypoxemia. Hypoxemia should be considered when headaches are seen in conjunction with other symptoms of hypoxemia.


Hypoxemia is not easily diagnosed on symptoms alone. If you are worried that your blood oxygen saturation levels are low, buying a pulse oximeter will help both you and your doctor diagnose and manage this condition.


Treatment for hypoxemia is dependent on severity of your condition. Mild cases can be remedied through lifestyle changes (taking more exercise, increasing your dietary intake of antioxidants and undertaking breathing exercises). More serious cases of hypoxemia may require oxygen therapy.


iHealth Wireless Pulse Oximeter

The Wireless Pulse Oximeter is a reliable way to spot-check blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) and pulse rate (BPM)

List price £49.17 ex. vat