Hi, just got an oximeter and have some questions. Could anybody using oximeter answer my question please?

 Shoul it show the same numbers when sitting and moving? I asked the doctor, she said when moving even with healthy people the oxygen level goes down. It does with my husband, goes down when he walks. But i checked to myself it shows the same while walking and sitting, just the pulse goes up when i walk.

37 Replies

  • Hello Mendy, when you use any muscles it uses up oxygen, that's why we need to stay fit...Breathing exercises are also good to increase and strengthen lung muscles. Hope this helps, have a nice day, huff xxx

  • Thank you very much huff. 

  • hi love, I've had a few over the years, do some thing a bit more strenuous, like, carrying the washing basket, I bet it goes up then!! and use it as your moving as well, some people "recover" quickly, hope this might help, martine  xxx

  • Hi dear Martine, thank you for reply.I checked my husband's, so it goes to 70s when he walks, and 90-91 sitting. I think its not good, because he is out of breath

  • when I was at the Brompton they said they were happy if I was at 88 when walking (I was on oxygen as well) so I might be your husband needs oxy or it needs to be readjusted. what illness does he have. even when hes sitting that's a little low. is he on oxy.

  • He got fibrosis, not ipf. No he is not on oxy, his doctor never said about using it. 

  • it sounds like its time he should be on it, that's just my opinion. I would make an app with dr/specialist for a walking test. do it soon, because as I've found out the lack of oxy damages other organs in our bodies, my oxy has always been to low but I could not get apps at Brompton to be seen, I dident know then it was so bad for the rest of my organs.  I hope you get an app soon and tell your husband to take it easy, sending my love martine. oh I found out last week its PF now they have decided its genetic, nice of them not to tell me!!

  • Thank you dear Martine xxxxxxxxxxxx

    Next week they ll do him more tests to check other organs. Asked about oxygen, they said lets wait the results of blood tests( they took blood for gases and for infections). 

  • oh i'm so pleased, the blood gas test tells them how much oxy is in his blood and you will know what the score is about oxy and every thing, wishing you both good test results, take care both of you, martine  xxx

  • Mendy, desaturating into the 70s is dangerous so if I were you I would call up your surgery and tell them this and ask for an emergency appointment with a referral to a pulmonary physiotherapist who will assess your husband by carrying out a 6 minute walk test monitoring his oxygen levels throughout.

    These very low levels happened with someone in my Breathe Easy group and when she first saw the respiratory nurse she was put onto oxygen straightaway.  If your husband's resting sats are 90, then he will likely just be given ambulatory oxygen.  He will probably feel less breathless but the main point, as people have said here, is to protect his vital organs, especially his heart, from damage due to insufficient oxygen.

  • Thank you, unfortunately they dont have here 6 mins test in this country. So they did several heart tests, took blood tests and said we check if its infection and gases in blood. Hope they ll give the oxygen.

  • I hope so too Mendy - good luck to you and your husband.

  • 70s are very very low, he should mention that to his gp

  • Hi Mandy, we did. Waiting for blood test results now.

  • oh, I just realised I mean it will go DOWN!!!  omg what am I like!!  martine  xxx

  • Thank you very much.

  • Does it show down when there is a chest infection?

  • It can do, his levels are low and it would be good if you could phone his respiratory nurse to see what she thinks, huff xxx

  • He has chest infection now. Lets see what the doctors doo.xxx

  • Hello Mendy,

    Just following your thread here and reading that your husband is having more tests/investigations. I hope they will show where he needs more medical support. 

    An oximeter will show oxygen saturation levels in the blood, which on exertion and or infection will go down, and pulse rate, which on exertion/infection will increase.

    Wishing  you husband and yourself well Mendy.

    Warmest wishes,


  • Hi dear Pauline, thank you for your wishes and reply. We are waiting for blood tests results, looks like it was infection, because chest isnt tight any more and pulse went down to normal. Lucky we had antibiotics, so he took them. Guess this oximeter is strange, tried different finger and it shows 94-95 and the finger we usually use shows a lot less. 

  • Hello Mendy,

    Hoping your husband is feeling better now? It is always a good idea to have a 'rescue pack ' of medication to hand! Hope that can be arranged? 

    All good wishes,

    Take care of yourself.


  • Hi Polly, thank you for your wishes. He is in hospital and started the intravenous treatment with antibiotics and steroids. I hope it ll help him. 

  • Oh Mendy, so sorry to hear that! 

    Although really hope it does make a difference to his health! 

    It just be a worry for you there and hope that you have some support from friends ? And maybe family as well? 

    Thinking of you both and sending healing thoughts. 

    Warmest wishes,


  • Thank you dear Polly. I stay with him in the hospital all the day and go home at night. So i dont leave him alone. 

  • This is my understanding based on a test on my UAD (Unofficial Adopted Daughter). Her %SpO2 reading was 98 after sitting watching a film, after walking to the kitchen and back, it was 99. I presume this because she is walking, therefore her lungs are less cramped than when sitting. If I do the same test when using oxygen, then, I Start about 90 and will drop into the low 70's. Conclusion oxygen is bad for you!!!! 😋 ❌❌(DO NOT BELIEVE MY CONCLUSION IN THIS CASE).❌❌

    Oxygen levels go down on exercise, but, as Montymillie said, it depends on the level of exercise. Short walk may actually increase the oxygen levels, 10 minutes on an exercise bike will definately drop the oxygen levels.

    One other point to note, is the Oximeter will average out the readings over a number of seconds. If I walk 5metres without oxygen, I will be breathless and feeling faint, the Oximeter will still show 90, although if I Change fingers, it will immediately show 60's. 

    Hope this helps.

  • Thank you Tenter. So it means that cant trust to oxymeters? Mine shows 99 sitting down, walking also 99, running 98-99. Husbands 70s walking, 90-91 sitting. At doctors oxymeter it showed 95. But his one also wasnt professional oxymeter, it was like ours from amazon.

  • Hi

    Although fairly reliable over the counter oximeter are not suitable for snap shots, or being used when moving, and they don't like nail varnish or cold damp fingers. Depending on make they may start high and come down to settle, or start low and go up to settle. I usually take two quick ones without paying to much attention to the reading and take a third which is the one I use. I have come home from shopping climbed two flights of stairs sat down and checked my reading 94. Tried again 90 which is more realistic, I am on Ambulitory oxygen 4 LPM. After a few minutes back to 94/96 which is my normal for being at rest with oxygen.

    Acceptable levels are 88/94 of course high is better. Below 88 for long periods of time may result in major organ damage. If you are concerned about your oxygen levels ask to be referred to your Respitory nurse with a view of conducting a six minute walk test for Ambulitory oxygen and a ABG arterial blood gases test got for LTOT. long term oxygen therapy. GP are no longer involved in prescribing oxygen

  • Thank you for reply. They took today arterial blood tests for gases and C reactive protein. If we buy 2 lt oxygen concentrator, for how many days ll it be enough if to use oxygen 5 hours a day?

  • Hi

    Any decision on oxygen should be delayed until your test results are available. If you are UK based oxygen is free on NHS suitable equipment will be provided as to your needs.

  • No we arent in the UK unfortunately. So have to buy . Ll wait for the test results. Thank you.

  • There are a couple of things to keep in mind. Most oximeters, especially the more inexpensive ones, are effected my movement and cold hands/fingers so the readings can vary if you are sitting on the couch and you have cold fingers. If you are walking it is harder to keep your hand perfectly still so readings may vary as well just because of the movement. Most of the time my O2 does not drop with exercise or walking but other times it does. It seems my heart speeds up enough to keep up with the demand for additional oxygen demanded by the muscles, or at least that is what I assume.

    They also generally say to allow about 30 seconds for it to stabilize.

    I just read some of the other replies and see Stone basically already posted the same information.

  • Thank you Jackdup, i did another test with oximeter today. I dont have lung problems so sitting down it was 98-99%, started to walk it dropped till 88, started to walk faster it dropped to 72. Stopped and it straight away showed 98. Thought it didnt work, did the test again-figures same. Didnt feel out of breath at all. But the other day sitting and walking showed the same 97-99. 

    But hisbands shows close to 74-79 walking and he is out of breath. Thats strange. 

  • Having it recover immediately when you stopped walking may happen because of the stop in your movement and your actual O2 may not have been as low as indicated. If you try it again and it drops trying holding the hand with the oximeter on it by the wrist with the other hand across your chest to try to stop any movement of the hand with the oximeter on it and see if it still drops so dramatically when you walk. You can buy much more expensive ones that are not supposed to be effected by movement but they are quite costly. It may not hurt to take your oximeter with you when you go the doctors and try wearing theirs and yours and then walk to see if they both drop or just yours. A person should generally be checked if it is dropping below 88% just to be sure it is the oximeter and not the actual O2 as that can be dangerous to have it below 88 for very long.

  • You are right, tried again as you said to do. Dropps till 94 and goes back to 98. Then did walking test to husband, showed 74 while walking then stopped and it went up to 92 during 30 seconds. So his oxy really goes down thats why he is out of breath(((

  • If he is not on oxygen he should probably have an assessment done as dropping that low could damage organs.

  • Hi to everybody. Arterial blood test is ready and shows saturation 97%. PO2-75, PCO2-30.

    So no oxygen they say. Shortness of breath isnt because of low sats. Ll do different heart tests today. But what ll they find if echocardiography made the other day shows its fine?

    CRP is high which is infection. Ll do antibiotic injections.

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