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.

9 Replies

  • 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.

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