Saturation, also called oxygen saturation is the oxygen content expressed as a percentage (SpO2 %) that has bound itself to the hemoglobin in the blood. In medical terms, it means the saturation of the percentage of oxygen molecules (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) bound to the protein hemoglobin in the red blood cells. We say it popularly percentage of oxygen in blood.
You can easily measure the percentage of oxygen in blood yourself with a oximeter† This is also called pulse oximeter, oxygen meter or oxygen saturation meter. You usually place this device, a kind of squeezer, on your finger. Within a few seconds you will see the percentage on the screen.
Saturation is indicated as a percentage of SpO2. The Sp stands for saturation. The O2 stands for the oxygen molecules. An SpO2 % between 95 and 99% is considered normal saturation (healthy oxygen levels) for a standard person.
It is important to remember that blood saturation in children can sometimes vary depending on the position they are in, for example, when they are sitting or lying down. In addition, blood saturation can sometimes decrease during certain activities, such as sports or running. This is normal and should not be a cause for concern unless saturation decreases significantly or remains low for an extended period of time.
An overview of the meaning of the saturation values:
|Normal Saturation||95 - 100%|
|Low Saturation||90 - 95%|
In a normal saturation you do not need to do anything. However, if this is close to 95%, regular measuring is not an unnecessary luxury. If the saturation is low, we recommend that you keep a close eye on this. Please contact your GP to discuss this as well. In case of desaturation you should always contact your doctor.
What is desaturation?
When do you have too low a saturation? If your SpO2 % is lower than 94%, we speak of a low saturation. In principle, you will then need extra oxygen. An SpO2% lower than 90% is alarming. With these values you should in principle contact a doctor immediately and have yourself examined. A saturation value lower than 90% is called desaturation. In medical terms this is called hypoxemia† People who suffer from a lung disease, such as asthma or COPD, often have lower saturation values. The same goes for, for example, people who are mountain climbing. Due to the thinner air, higher in the mountains, the saturation value will be lower. As long as this is temporary this is not a problem.
The percentage of oxygen in blood can fluctuate during the day. If you have a lower percentage, but above 90%, it is recommended to measure more often to keep a close eye on it. At a low value, you may experience various symptoms.
Low saturation symptoms
If you suffer from a low saturation, you will experience a number of complaints. The main symptoms are:
- Increased heartrate
- Shortness of breath
The above symptoms are often the first indications of an oxygen saturation that is too low. If the measured values remain low for a longer period of time, you may become tired, short of breath or even confused. You then suffer from a lack of oxygen.
How to increase saturation?
Increasing the SpO2 percentage doesn't happen overnight. It takes time. Good exercise and regular fresh air in the open air are the most important. As a result, you absorb more oxygen from the air. In addition, it is important to relax well and eat iron-rich products regularly. For example nuts, vegetables and fruit.
Covid-19 and the percentage of oxygen in blood
Measuring saturation is very important for people with corona. Corona (Covid-19) is a lung disease. In case of an infection, oxygen will be more difficult to absorb into the red blood cells. The coronavirus can create a barrier of fluid in your lungs. Oxygen passes through this much more difficult.
Many corona patients have a saturation lower than 92% SpO2. That can be very life-threatening. It is therefore highly recommended to measure regularly. You use a saturation meter for this.
In collaboration with various Amsterdam hospitals and general practitioners, we have supplied many saturation meters to Covid-19 patients. This allows them to easily measure saturation at home. This shortens the hospital visit by more than 2 days. The oximeters that we have supplied is the iHealth Air Smart Saturation Meter. This excellent model measures saturation very accurately and can be connected to your smartphone. With a special saturation measuring app, exchanging the measured values is very easy.
How can I measure the percentage of oxygen in blood?
Saturation is measured by means of a oximeter. A saturation meter or oxygen meter measures the oxygen content of blood by means of a sensor. This sensor consists of 2 parts: an infrared light source and a photo sensor. The infrared light source emits an infrared beam that looks at the color of the blood.
Due to iron in the hemoglobin the blood takes on its red color. The connection of hemoglobin with oxygen molecules gives a different shade of red than when more or fewer oxygen molecules are bound. The reflected infrared rays differ from the emitted infrared rays. The photosensor can accurately determine to what extent the hemoglobin is bound to oxygen.
Saturation is often measured at the fingertip. To do this, use a fingertip pulse oximeter. Several small bloodstreams run through the fingertip that are clearly visible. This is because the skin of the fingertip is relatively thin.
Cheap or expensive – What is a quality oximeter?
There are many different types of pulse oximeter in the market. However, care must be taken not to buy a faulty oximeter. Very cheap meters are offered on various websites. Sometimes for just a few euros. You can also find these on the shelves of a supermarket. It is not known how accurately these oximeters measure. No independent research has been done into the operation and reliability. We sometimes see meters where there is a very large margin of error. Sometimes as much as 3-4 %. You will then not know whether you may have hypoxemia or normal saturation. That's life-threatening.
The meters we offer all comply with European legislation. The complete documentation is in order and the meters are reliable. If you are looking for a cheap, but reliable meter, you are at the right place with the brand ChoiceMMed Good. They offer an excellent product at a competitive price. For example the ChoiceMMed C29 pulse oximeter.
If you are looking for a top class meter then you must Nonin to have. Nonin pulse oximeters measure very well and reliably.
Need personal and expert advice about saturation meters? We like to help you!
We are at your disposal with personal and expert advice about saturation meters. Take it completely without obligation contact with us. We can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call us at 0182 – 239393. We offer a wide range of quality oximeters from recognized brands.
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