Oxygen saturation during airplane flight

I have a question that I have tried to get an answer for to no avail. I have severe/very severe copd (fev1 29%). I have been on 02 24/7 for 4 years and have kept my copd steady. I have flown many times with portable concentrators. Just took a trip and my sats dropped down to mid 70's - mid 80's when at above 30,000 ft! Very scary!

Since that flight I have been extremely tired and have upped my 02 to 3 LPM constant (was at 2lpm). I wonder if I have injured my lungs further. Hav doc appointment end of month. Anyone experience this??? I am still walking but really get breathless quickly now.

17 Replies

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  • Hi what are your sats since you returned? x

  • My SATS are in the high 90 s at 3 LPM constant. When I exert myself I go down to low 90's. I know this is good, but before my trip I was at 2 LPM.

    The exhaustion is what concerns me???? Thanks for your help.

  • Hi -- I shouldn't think it's because your sats dropped on the plane - mine drop that low too as the plane goes higher despite turning 02 up - and I think it must do for many of us. POC's don't perform so well as the altitudes get higher by the way - regardless of which brand you have. If you are suffering exhaustion beyond what you're used to then have a word with your nurse/GP. Are you sure it's not 'end of winter' fatigue? Many of us are at our physical low point at this time of year. Hope you feel better soon.

  • Wow...I hope it is just winter doldrums but don't think so. I have flown many times and never had such a drop in sats. I too wonder if the concentrator was the problem but they (O2 company) say no! I am going to see lung doc on the 25th. Thanks for your response.

  • I just asked my Dr this question last week. I flew to Connecticut in December. I use oxygen at 2 with pulse. I checked my oxygen at 30,000 feet it was 73. I was nervous! He said I should have been on "4 with continuous flow" for the flight!! Hope this helps!!

  • Yes, I tried every setting on my concentrator. Unfortunately most portable. Concentrators do not operate above 2 LPM continuous. i pushed mine up to 6 LPM pulse but no help?? Did you feel any after effects from being at 75%. How long were you low like that. I have been just exhausted since and it's over 2 weeks.

  • Saw my pulmonary doc yesterday and had full check up with all tests and no change to my lungs...yea!!  He believes I went through a type of exacerbation ver last month, caused by the lack of oxygen on the flight.  He think the concentrator was at fault!!

  • I felt very light headed and weak. I have since had bronchitis which put be in the hospital for two days. Since then I have not felt good. I feel like I have no energy at all .

    By the way I have a simply go machine. It's nice but very expensive.

  • I also used a Simply Go on this last trip!!! Hmmmm...beginning to question the concentrator. It only goes to 2 LPM on continuous but 6 LPM on pulse. Neither setting worked for me. I hope you feel better soon. I feel a bit better each day but a long way from normal.

  • I am trying the pulse tomorrow--do you think I will like it?? I am on 2 at rest--3 if up and 5 at night--but I jump thru theses numbers as I need them--some days don't you think air is heavier and you need more 02???Im going to look at my fev1 and see what that is---My cataract is killing me--out the 26th===MmeT

  • i don't know how you will react to "pulse". with me it doesn't work because i am a very shallow breather. yes, the weather really has an effect on my breathing!

    i breath best at sea level near the ocean.

  • so you are not doin it?/ I always want to breathe out of mouth--Lady coming tomorrow to see hiw I do--MmeT

  • not sure i understand what you are asking when you said "so you are not doing it?" i do not use pulse flow.

  • that's what I wondered--Mmet

  • good luck with the cataract surgery....

  • thank you--It cant be worse than that arterial blood gas I went thru this week --good god that hurt--xx MmeT

  • I get it--

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