What does blood oxygen level mean?

Your blood oxygen level (blood oxygen saturation) is the amount of oxygen cylinder price you have circulating in your blood.

Oxygen is essential to life, and our bodies need a certain amount of oxygen to function correctly. Oxygen enters your body through your nose or mouth when you breathe (inhale) and passes through your lungs into your bloodstream. Once in your bloodstream, the oxygen goes to cells all over your body. All your cells need oxygen to create energy efficiently. And your body needs the energy to fulfill all of its processes, such as digestion and even thinking.

How can I increase my blood oxygen level?

There are some ways to naturally increase the amount of oxygen in your blood, including:

  • Breathing in the fresh air: Opening your windows or going outside for a walk can increase the amount of oxygen your body brings in, increasing your overall blood oxygen level.
  • Quitting smoking: Your circulation will likely improve significantly only two to three weeks after you quit smoking. After one to nine months, your shortness of breath decreases. Both aspects contribute to your body’s ability to take in more oxygen.
  • Practicing breathing exercises: Simple breathing exercises like pursed-lip breathing and deep belly breathing can open your airways and increase the amount of oxygen in your blood.

Pursed-lip Breathing for Interstitial Lung Disease

If you have a restrictive lung disease like ILD, you may find that your oxygen levels plummet with even very light activity, which can make you short of breath. It is essential to pace yourself, slow down, and practice your good breathing techniques. You may use your oximeter to give you feedback to guide how well using PLB increases your oxygen saturation. Start by slowing your rate of breathing. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth with pursed lips. Smell the roses, then blow the candle just enough to cause it to flicker. As you watch your oximeter, remember that it takes about 30 seconds for the information from your chest to reach your finger. So, be patient as you take that delay into account.

Increase O2 levels over the long-term

Some people may experience low or fluctuating oxygen levels for a more chronic period. This may occur with certain respiratory conditions, like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or emphysema. Patients with a more long-term oxygenation problem can increase their levels by regularly performing exercises that promote chest well expansion and more effective inhalation.


Now that you know which blood oxygen levels should be of concern and some factors that affect your blood oxygen saturation let’s look at the best methods to measure your levels. Two of the more popular options are:

  • Arterial Blood Gas (ABG) Test – This checks how much oxygen and carbon dioxide are in the blood. The doctor uses a small needle to draw blood from the wrist, inside of the arm, or groin. The results are usually available within 15 minutes.
  • Pulse Oximeter Test – This is a non-invasive test. A small device is clipped onto your finger and can detect how oxygen is carried to your extremities. This test may be used in a clinical setting, but there are also pulse oximeters for at-home use.