The term oxygen saturation comes up often enough in health talks and the different risks it possesses, but what exactly does it mean? To understand this, first you need to know what hemoglobin is. Hemoglobin is a protein that contains iron and is one of the chiefcomponents of blood. Although a minor of amount of hemoglobin is dissolved in plasma, most of it is attached to red blood cells. Hemoglobin is the carrier of oxygen and transports it from the lungs to the other organs of the body. Oxyhemoglobin is a component of hemoglobin and you are more familiar with it than you think. The bright red color of blood, a mixture of hemoglobin and oxygen, is contained within the oxyhemoglobin.
To sum up, oxygen saturation is the ratio of the concentration of oxyhemoglobinto the total hemoglobin present in a person’s blood.
A molecule of hemoglobin can carry up to four molecules of oxygen. Assuming that there are five hundred molecules of hemoglobin containing four hundred and fifty molecules of oxygen, the Oxygen Saturation Levels will be 450/500 or 90%. A healthy oxygen saturation level is anywhere from 95% to 98%. You can never have a saturation level of a 100% except in a clinic with a gasmask or other such circumstances. Having a 100% concentration of oxygen in your blood is harmful except in special cases such as anemia.
When the tissues in your body contain too much oxygen, you can develop a condition called oxygen toxicity. It is an ailment found mainly in deep-sea divers, but can also affect premature babies or patients receiving treatment of hyperbaric oxygen. Oxygen toxicity can be of two types, namely central nervous system toxicity and pulmonary toxicity. These differ based on the different parts of the body they affect. The symptoms of central nervous system toxicity are vision changes, anxiety, nausea, muscle twitches, hearing changes, convulsions, and dizziness. Pulmonary toxicity leads to damage in the alveoli and the trachea.
Conversely, a concentration below 90% is considered a low level of oxygen saturation. If you’re your saturation levels are low, you should seek immediate help because having a low count over an extended period of time can lead to permanent damage to your breathing. Low oxygen saturation can be spotted through a number of noticeable symptoms. The most obvious is difficulty in breathing. It can be caused by a diseases which obstruct the airflow such as emphysema or chronic asthmatic bronchitis. Another symptom is a low level of energy. Oxygen is necessary for cells to produce energy, so naturally if the saturation levels are low, you will not feel as active. Common signs include lethargy, weakness, and fatigue. Without oxygen supply, the brain cannot function and the brain cells die. If you, therefore, experience confusion or short term memory loss, it can be caused by low oxygen levels.
Having an Oxygen Saturation Levels above or below the normal range can have serious and long lasting effects on your health. If you notice any of the symptoms, you should go to a doctor as soon as possible. Moreover, you should eat foods rich in iron to maintain a healthy amount of hemoglobin in your blood.