A normal blood oxygen level can range from 95-100%. That number is often lower for people with lung diseases or other specific health issues. Blood oxygen levels that fall below 90% are considered quite low.
HOW TO INCREASE YOUR BLOOD OXYGEN LEVEL
There are a number of things you can do to help boost your blood oxygen level. In the immediate short term:
- Stand or sit up straight. Rather than lying down, which may put pressure on your lungs and make it harder to breathe.
- Cough. If you have a cold or the flu, difficulty breathing can decrease oxygen saturation in your blood. Coughing may loosen up secretions and clear your airway.
- Go outside. Fresh air is good for your lungs and generally has higher levels of oxygen in it. However, if it is very hot or cold out that may hamper your breathing.
- Drink lots of water. Hydrated lungs are more efficient at dispersing oxygen into your bloodstream.
- Take slow, deep breaths. This should increase the amount of air going into your lungs.
And on a more long-term basis:
- Practice breathing exercises. Working on deliberate breathing techniques can build up your lung capacity and allow for more oxygen to reach your blood.
- Be active. Physical activity accelerates your breathing rate, enabling you to take in more oxygen. In the same way working out your body improves your fitness, exercising your lungs is good for them too.
- If you smoke, quit. This can rapidly benefit the health of your lungs in a very short time, and to no surprise your blood oxygen level as well.
- Get house plants. Since plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen, they freshen the quality of the air you breathe indoors and make it more like what’s outdoors.
- Consume iron-rich foods. Red blood cells need iron, so they may function better (and carry more oxygen through your blood) when you get more iron in your diet.
SYMPTOMS OF LOW OXYGEN LEVELS IN BLOOD
Possible symptoms of low blood oxygen levels include:
- Shortness of breath
- Heavy breathing
- Chest pains
- Elevated heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Loss of coordination
- Impaired vision
Beyond certain medical conditions, low levels of oxygen in your blood can also be the result of changes in your environment–for example, transitioning to a higher altitude where there is a smaller percentage of oxygen in the air.