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Low oxygen SPO2 anyone?

Discussion in 'Cardiovascular and Respiratory' started by Mattie, Jan 26, 2018.

  1. Kitty

    Kitty Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    I suspect there isn't much difference between the consumer ones. They should be consistent enough to establish your 'normal', so if you're unlucky enough to get ill, you can monitor yourself.

    Beyond that, though, they're not massively useful day to day. I bought mine quite a few years ago as a cheap way to monitor resting heart rate (I kept losing count :rolleyes:), and it was useful for checking it periodically through the day to establish baselines. Since then, it's sat in a drawer – until Covid arrived, that is, and I heard about silent hypoxia.
  2. Ravn

    Ravn Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    So, trying to summarise what I've learned here so far.

    A true low reading is due to low oxygen in the blood. This is obviously important in the context of Covid lung damage.

    A false low readings could be due to low haemoglobin and maybe other things making red blood cells less red. It's unclear if the reverse is true, that false high readings could come from bright red overheated fingers, or beetroot stains for that matter ;)

    A false low reading could also be due to not enough blood getting to the finger tips even if the blood is full of oxygen. This may be relevant for pwME? I seem to recall some studies suggesting oxygen wasn't getting from the blood into the muscles. Which would presumably mean that the blood remains highly oxygenated because the oxygen doesn't get used. But if the blood doesn't get to the finger tips that oxygen won't get measured. Wasn't here some hypothesis suggesting capillaries clamping shut when they shouldn't? At any rate, many of us seem to have poor circulation or even Raynaud's, which is enough to throw up false low readings. At least it does for me: warm hands consistently around 99%, cold hands consistently below 93%, sometimes within minutes of each other.

    Lessons so far: for most reliable results measure regularly on the same device on warm but not hot hands and, if possible, check haemoglobin status.
    Perrier, Binkie4, Kitty and 4 others like this.
  3. Agapanthus

    Agapanthus Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    I bought a pulse oximeter last March/April time as advice on it was given to my sister in law's son who is a Dr. and she was recovering from a lung infection. With Covid-19 just getting going, I felt it was a worthwhile investment.

    However every time I tested myself the darn thing kept beeping at me it seemed as my levels were not great at that time - 92 to 94 usually. My haemoglobin has always been normal in recent years anyway. In the end I was getting freaked out by the alarm beeping at me, and chucked it in a drawer.

    I brought it out again in December when I had Covid!! No coughing or temperature though, and a very mild dose (though sadly not with such a mild dose of post-Covid issues now). Happily my scores during Covid were more like 94 to 95 so all was well. Since then I have rechecked a few times and it's 94 - 95 at best and 92 - 93 at worst - tending to be in the evening for the lower figures.
    Perrier, Kitty, Ravn and 2 others like this.
  4. Hutan

    Hutan Moderator Staff Member

    New Zealand
    Sorry to hear about the relapse AWNTY.
    I don't have a SPO2 meter, but I was thinking of the tendency of my hands to go numb when elevated as I read this thread. It happened a lot to me and my two children in the first year we became sick, and it happens these days when I've overdone it. It's been happening much more these last two months when I haven't been super well, as has the restless legs, which I think is a response to poor blood circulation in my feet.

    It looks like there is something here. I wonder what research has been done on things related to peripheral oxygenation/blood flow? Even just a study of SPO2 to move the evidence on from anecdotal reports would be good, and easy, and pretty cheap if combined with another study.
    Perrier, Chezboo, Binkie4 and 4 others like this.
  5. arewenearlythereyet

    arewenearlythereyet Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Yes it probably would be quite cheap to do a simple study to determine if this was a common effect. It looks like there are quite a few factors that affect blood oxygen levels but a study of this sort could be fairly straightforward as you say. I believe there are also measures of peripheral blood flow that are non invasive but I’ve not properly looked into it.

    Regarding the numbness, I’ve had constant symmetrical hand and sock numbness for a while (around 10 years before my ME made itself known). Like you though this got significantly worse in the months before the ME fatiguability problems started presenting. I am still unsure of the connection, although I did have an ME type event (went pale and shaky and couldn’t climb some stairs at work) which was diagnosed at the time as asthma so this could be a sort of early presentation (around 6-7 years before the ME proper started)? It seems to be stable now, not painful just inconvenient (adds to the clumsiness of ME). I also get the ‘dead” arm and leg thing pretty much every day along with throbbing feet even when I haven’t been standing on them, which I am sure didn’t happen as frequently before and seems to be worse atm.

    sorry you haven’t been too well recently also. I’m around 3 months now since a mild cold took away around 40% of what I had ....luckily lockdown means I can avoid showering etc and still sort of work but it’s touch and go with a lot more pacing/rest breaks needed. Hopefully it’s just a short setback.
    Binkie4, Ravn, Kitty and 3 others like this.
  6. perchance dreamer

    perchance dreamer Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    My low 02 is probably caused by my being born with a small airway. I don't have COPD, emphysema, or any of the other diseases associated with a small airway.

    When I sleep, my 02 is 92 if I don't wear a dental appliance that brings my lower jaw forward and 93 if I do wear the appliance. I'd love to try supplemental 02 when I sleep, but insurance considers these levels too high for them to pay for.

    I've started doing diaphragmatic breathing with slow exhales, which can increase 02 levels if what I've read is correct. I'm going to get a pulse ox to see what effect this practice has. It has really improved my sleep, so I'll keep doing it even if it doesn't improve my 02.
    Arnie Pye, Kitty, Trish and 1 other person like this.
  7. Arnie Pye

    Arnie Pye Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    I was taught how to do this by a respiratory nurse at my GP surgery when I was hyperventilating like mad. I couldn't even hold my breath for more than a second because I was over-breathing so badly. I can now hold my breath for over 30 seconds. I'm certain that the breathing lessons were far more effective than the modern day treatment of CBT would be, and I can carry on and use the techniques I was taught years after the lessons were over. And they don't require a prescription.

    That's one of the things I hate about "CBT for everything". It can mean that treatments that are effective and well known get ditched in preference for cheap and useless.
    Trish and Binkie4 like this.
  8. perchance dreamer

    perchance dreamer Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    A biofeedback therapist and my ENT had told how important diaphragmatic breathing is, but I had kind of forgotten about it until I started reading John Nestor's recent book on breath. This kind of breathing and the slow exhales bring on a parasympathetic state that is very calming, which helps with sleep and daytime anxiety. This breathing has also brought down my blood pressure. And, like you say, it doesn't require a prescription, and it's free.

    I was listening to an interview on NPR's Fresh Air with Meryl Streep. She was talking about how part of playing Julia Child in the movie Julie and Julia was getting Julia's breath down. Julia always sounded breathless.
    Annie, Arnie Pye and Trish like this.
  9. perchance dreamer

    perchance dreamer Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    I just bought a pulse ox, and it measures PI (perfusion index) in addition to the 02 and and pulse rate. I've been reading about the PI and am still confused.

    It seems to be the measure of peripheral blood flow at the site. I'm trying to figure out the significance of that. Is it used just to make sure the blood flow to the site is high enough that the 02 and PR being measured are accurate? Does it have any significance for health beyond that?

    If I practice slow, diaphragmatic breathing, my PI goes up, my 02 rises, and my pulse rate goes down. I'd like to buy a device so I can measure 02 levels while I sleep. I'm curious whether my recent calm breathing during the day could also affect nighttime 02.
    Arnie Pye and Trish like this.
  10. Trish

    Trish Moderator Staff Member

    I can't answer that. It would be interesting.

    I find that the effect of changing my breathing pattern is pretty immediate - I tried it again a couple of days ago and was able to vary my O2 reading between 92 and 99 by breath holding and deep breathing - the changes happened in less than a minute.

    If it's that immediate, I can't see how breathing exercises during the day would affect O2 levels overnight, unless the training to do more diaphragmatic breathing carries over while we sleep. I'm just speculating here.
    Arnie Pye and Hutan like this.

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