Home pulse oximetry and sats down to 93%

Hello everyone,

It's been a long time since I've been on the forum for help - must be a good sign!

Anyway, my son (6 years old) has seemed a bit not quite right today - not at all lethargic but a bit naughty and a bit clingyish. His appetitive has been poor but no temp, and didn't externally appear to behaving any breathing difficulties. But he never does, and this is where I get worried as a mum. My son's asthma doesn't seem to behave like normal asthma. Externally you don't notice it until he's getting to the point where his lungs and heart are working hard. At Christmas, I took him to the doc 'just to be on the safe side', fully expecting to get that huff and look when you know you've wasted their time and bang, he was on oral steroids and antibiotics. Even the GP was confused - externally their we're no real signs of respiratory distress at all, yet when she took his sats on the pulse oximeter, his sats were down real low and yet his heart rate nor respiratory rate remained normal (for him). Since then, I have bought myself an oximeter so that I record daily his baseline so that I know when there are changes going on silently inside.

Tonight is one of those times when I'm glad I bought it. He was reading just before bed and I noticed that he was having to try harder than usual to complete sentences. I'd also nagged him all day to stop talking so loudly (which I think is also a compensatory reflex to not being able to breathe properly). everything else seemed fine, maybe a tiny tad 'breathy'. So I did his oximeter and his sats were down to 93%, heart rate 112 (he's normally 99/99). I gave him his blue inhaler and his usual seretide and within about 5 mins he was back to 99%.

i've done a bit of respiratory medicine and CVS medicine at uni and in my work, so I really don't understand how he can all this going on internally but not show any sign of it externally. I'm really confused and am wondering if I should ask my GP to refer my son to a respiratory consultant. I feel as though my son's actually more vulnerable because he doesn't look as though he's having trouble. He doesn't even seem feel it himself. I thought that he'd know by now, now he's a bit older.

Has anyone else experienced asthma preventing in this way?

Leish xx

5 Replies

  • Sorry for all the typos - it's this blo*dy iPad, has a mind of it's own!! Xx

  • yep me all over, coughing etc then i get in such distress at times sat rates brilliant except a few weeks ago had chest infection sats down to 94% practically all day not too bad but shoulden't be that low had ventolin neb sats reached 99% for an hour then went back to 94-95% should really gone to a & e but got through the night and was better next day. If you are not sure get him to hospital is my motto and good luck

  • Hey, I don't have much constructive information, but I thought I would share with you that from working in a children's hospital and A+E, I have witnessed children in very similar situations, one that will always stick in my memory was a boy of around 10 years old, his parents were saying he was having a severe asthma attack. lets just say looking at him, his presentation was just the opposite, he was sat on his knees on the trolley, screaming to the top of his voice and that was literally ripping though the emergency department, never stopping to take a breathe. Sadly he ended up really poorly in intensive care. when I had five minutes, I spoke to the paediatric respiratory consultant that was on, she told me that children respond very differently to adults, in that many (not all) don't present in the ""normal"" ways, and the reason behind this child screaming to the top of their voice was because it was their way of being able to inhale as much oxygen as possible and exhale all the waste as his lungs and heart was under so much strain, and because he was so fidgety (through distress) we couldn't observe his respiratory rate like we would on a ""normal"" presentation, in children they have the stamina to fight and fight and fight until the end and then they can suddenly deteriorate. Apparently this consultant had seen this particular presentation only a few number of times.

    Any way, not that I have rambled on, in response to your question, if you feel that your son should be seen under a specialist, then push for it, as at the end of it, your the one who will be looking over him for many more years to come, and would want his safety to be paramount.

    Hope you manage to get things sorted, and that your son remains well!!


  • Harlie - thank you. And on the contrary, your comments make perfect sense and fit with what me and my son's dad see in our lad. I'm really grateful for you getting back to me as it has reaffirmed my trust in myself and what I see as the early warning signs for my son. And I suppose that's exactly why paediatricians do indeed listen so carefully and respect what parents are saying about their child. And yes, the talking loudly is now longer my imagination but is in fact his way of presenting. You have absolutely no idea how relieved I feel (not sure what I'm relieved about!). Thank you xxx

  • Hi Wheels, no worries at all, im glad you feel more relieved!! I wasnt sure what i was saying would be of any help, but from a being a patient myself and working at a childrens hospital i picked up on a lot, especially in the way how children present so much more differently.

    I also learnt that the best people to ever listen to when it comes to children are their parents/careers as they k ow their children better than anyone else.

    This website has also been amazing for support, so post away if you need a virtual buddy so to speak, everyone on here is amazing!!

    Hope you get to sort things out soon...


    Ps...never underestimate your judgment and think thing are in your imagination. From what ive read you sound like fabbo parents who are doinf the best for your son. If thinks do change or you notice a differnce in your son but you dont think it needs immediate medical attention, make a diary so the next time you see a gp/asthma nurse you have it in front of you what has happened when. Xx

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