What is a low oxygen blood level?

Updated April 17, 2017

Low blood oxygen level, also called hypoxaemia, is a potentially life-threatening condition. Blood carries oxygen throughout the body, and the body needs this oxygen to function properly. Call your doctor immediately if you are exhibiting signs of this condition.


Blood tests may be used to test your blood oxygen level. Normal readings are from 95 to 100 per cent at sea level.


Any obstruction to oxygen being distributed through your body from the lungs could cause a low blood oxygen level. Common causes are: anaemia, COPD, emphysema, heart disease, pneumonia, sleep apnoea and shock.


Shortness of breath at rest or after light function can be a symptom of low blood oxygen level. This shortness of breath may get worse with exercise.


Stop smoking to help alleviate this shortness of breath. Avoiding second-hand smoke and getting regular exercise may help, as well.


Call 911 if your shortness of breath impedes you from daily functions. Immediate assistance should be called if your shortness of breath is accompanied by headache and insomnia at high elevations, as it may be a sign of high-altitude pulmonary oedema.


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About the Author

Mike McQuillian began writing professionally for the Internet in 2005. He is an associate editor for YabYum Music, a local music Web site focusing on Arizona bands. He received his Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Arizona State University in 2005.