What is an acceptable blood oxygen level?

Individuals that do not have acceptable blood oxygen levels suffer from hypoxaemia--a condition that occurs when your blood oxygen level is too low. This condition is especially common for those with lung disease. It effects normal bodily functions and can harm vital tissues.

Measuring Blood Oxygen

Medical professionals measure blood oxygen levels with blood tests or an oximeter, a small device that is clipped on your finger.


The normal range for blood oxygen is from 95 per cent to 100 per cent at sea level. Doctors consider levels below 90 per cent to be low, but not severe. People with blood oxygen levels below 80 per cent have severe hypoxaemia.


The most common symptom of hypoxaemia is shortness of breath that comes on suddenly. Shortness of breath after a little exertion is a sign of severe hypoxaemia. Those with severe hypoxaemia need to seek medical care as soon as possible.


Some conditions that cause hypoxaemia include sleep apnoea, emphysema, pneumonia, and anaemia.


To help maintain acceptable blood oxygen levels and prevent shortness of breath from worsening, avoid smoking, and begin a mild, daily exercise routine. This will strengthen your respiratory muscles and increase their ability to oxygenate blood. Treatment of lung disease also helps to improve blood oxygen levels.


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About the Author

John Wu is a writer who has covered computers, health, fitness and business since 2008 for various online publications. He is also an IT manager at a government agency. Wu holds a B.A. in legal studies from University of California, Berkeley and a B.S. in computer science from San Jose State University.