Oxygen saturation level is the amount of dissolved oxygen that is being carried though the bloodstream. There are several ways to measure how much oxygen the blood is carrying. Oximetry testing can be done by using a non-invasive pulse oximetry. But taking an arterial blood sample for testing is more accurate.
Many different illnesses put people at risk of not having enough circulating oxygen in the bloodstream. A person experiencing respiratory difficulty may not be exchanging air properly. This could cause them to retain carbon dioxide or fail to take in sufficient oxygen. Being able to check their saturation levels quickly lets the physician know how their body is handling the illness.
Anemia is when the body has insufficient red blood cells that carry the oxygen through the blood. People who are anemic are at risk for not having sufficient oxygen in the bloodstream. Mechanical problems such as failing to breathe deeply due to pain or being overly sedated can all restrict the amount of oxygen the body has in circulation. Being able to measure these saturation levels helps physicians treat illnesses effectively.
The easiest way to perform oximetry testing is using the pulse oximetry. This method uses light waves to measure the saturation levels. Oximetry testing is a non-invasive and pain free method of testing. Pulse oxygenation can be measured on the finger, toe nail beds or the ear lobes. It can be measured in seconds and will change rapidly as the levels change.
Drawing blood and having it analyzed is more accurate, and can give details about a number of other things as well. This method is painful and takes longer.
Most people are at 97% to 100% oxygenation. Doctors become concerned if it drops and stays below 90%. The most valuable thing to do is to identify and correct the cause. Whether the patient needs blood, oxygen or pain control the cause must be identified and resolved quickly. If the case is prolonged, or severe enough brain damage will occur. Oxygen saturation levels are extremely serious and tell medical personnel a lot about how the body is functioning.