READING BREATHING TESTS: Hi, a... - British Lung Foun...

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Laddieday profile image

Hi, a spirometer is a device one puts on the finger to determine oxygen content of blood and pulse rate. It is small and you can order it on Amazon. The top number is the oxygen content of your blood which should be above 90. In healthy people it's between 90 and 95, If your O2 (oxygen) levels go down your pulse rate goes up as your heart is working harder to get blood to your organs.

Breathing tests done on a computer are pulmonary function tests. Each one of the scores i.e. FEV1 measures your ABILITY to breath. in this case the air you can blow out. Just look up spirometry tests or even each score and you will find out how your score looks compared to others. These scores and the meanings are easy to look up. Hope that helps, we all have to learn this. Take good care, Laddieday

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Hi the one you put on your finger is called an oximetre. They don't all show the pulse rate as well but mine does and I got in on Amazon 2 years ago for £20.00 x

I thought a reading of 90 to 95 for a healthy person was low?

Katinka46 profile image
Katinka46 in reply to snail

I thought so too. I understood that healthy people should have readings over 95%. 95-90% are kind of all right for those with lung diseases. But below 90% needs careful monitoring. There comes a point when the vital organs become starved of oxygen.

K x

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Hidden in reply to Katinka46

Yes that is very true I was told by the Doctor if you can't get your reading over 87 phone for an ambulance.If it goes that low or lower it starts to starve your vital organs

Hi, just to add a thought- we don't have to learn all these things. It helps some people but not others. One way of looking at it is to concentrate on looking after ourselves, eating well, excercising properly, learning to manage problems related to being breathless.

I'm not putting it very well. I have an oximeter and I use it, but I want to enjoy my life not compare scores with others. I can ask the professionals who help me to interpret the scores. But we're all different.

Take care, Sue x

Nor comparing scores with others is one thing. We are all different. Not paying attention to numbers is another. My doctor tracks my numbers on breathing tests and let's me know my lung capacity. In this case numbers matter. My O2 numbers fluctuate and especially when I'm shopping which I shouldn't be and working. So to each his own, it's hard to tell someone not to pay attention to eat well, stay healthy etc. when in terminal stage of IPF which I am. At this point I still eat healthy as I always have. Also been a track runner of 10k's, tennis player, swimmer. I have lived a very healthy life. Now that I have IPF which was the cause of my mother and her brother's death, you bet numbers are important to me. I know everyone means well, but advice is so individualized it's hard to read comments that are way too generalized.

Sorry Laddieday, I didn't mean to upset you. I wasn't giving advice merely questioning reliance on numbers. Many people here have them all at their finger-tips. Others don't.

I'm also really sorry that you're going through such a lot but I won't say more at the moment. Sue x

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Hidden in reply to Laddieday

I keep a careful check on blood pressure. .and oxygen levels....the numbers help me feel better. ...if there good.

If not then I want to know why.

Take care.

I thought a healthy person would show 96 upwards. The normal reading for someone with COPD is 92/88 anything below 88% you need oxygen. Although I was tested for oxygen and the reading was to be below 91 to qualify for oxygen when needed not all the time.

A spirometer is an apparatus for measuring the volume of air inspired and expired by the lungs. It measures ventilation, the movement of air into and out of the lungs. I believe you are referring to an Oximeter - the one you put on your finger. It measures your pulse and the O2 content in yout blood.

Whether one uses an oximeter at home or not is one thing Laddieday, for me it is the quality of everyday life which is important! My sats don't always reflect how I need to self care 😄

How do I feel today, what if anything can I do to feel better? Get outside for a while? Speak to friends ?mEat healthily? Do some exercises? Smilie ? Or all of the above?

Have a great day !


I have a pulse oxometer and had I not been checking my oxygen levels I would not have just spent 13 days in hospital where I was put on water tablets and oxygen as my X-ray showed signs of enlargement of the right side of my heart. I would advise anyone with COPD to get one. My current one cost under £17. it's just like buying a thermometer when you feel hot and you suspect an infection.

Hi all, I think clarification is in order. COPD is one lung disorder. Pulmonary Fubrosis is very different. For those of you with Pulmonary Fibrosis I suggest going to the website Inspire. We can't with IPF be cavalier in our approach to keeping watch of oxygen levels. Ladfieday

Hanne62 profile image
Hanne62 in reply to Laddieday

Hi Laddieday. You might be interested in this UK website for those living with PF, it has lots of infor For those in the UK, this one has a telephone helpline

Also anyone (ie members of the public) can sign the IPF Charter, calling for improved & standardised care It would be great if everyone would sign this, as we all know PF is a neglected & underfunded condition

With respect it is always better to know what your talking about before posting, we all learn in different ways, take care.

As an IPF sufferer whose oxygen levels drop just by moving from lying, to siting on the bed (92 to 80), I find I need to monitor my oxygen levels, with an Oximeter, very carefully. Walking 5m and oxygen will drop to low 70's, sitting concentrating on my breathing will get me back up to low 80's. Lying down is the only way to get it back up. it concerns my wife to find me lying on the bathroom floor in the middle of the night head on a towel for a pillow.

I have a reassessment of my oxygen requirements on Wednesday, I suspect that I will pumped up above the current 5lpm oxygen I'm on at the moment ☹️

My understanding of oxygen levels which may be wrong is:

- Over 95 is normal for a person at rest.

- 90-95 at rest is minor cause for concern and doctor will want to monitor you

- Below 90 triggers doctor to investigate.

I am confused about the level at which organ damage can start to occur, some places they say 88, others 85. Although, it does seem to be the case that it has to be for prolonged periods. Anyone have a definition of a prolonged period, minutes, hours, days?

The use of an Oximeter has to be a personal thing, but, once you reach my stage I believe it is important to monitor.

Watfordgirl profile image
Watfordgirl in reply to Tenter

Hi Tenter, you describe the fluctuating O2 levels so well. Must be horrid - for you and your wife - to have to lie on the floor in the middle of the night. I don't have IPF but when I'm ill I do check my O2 levels lots and it helps. What seems to be coming through in the replies is that we're unsure what different O2 levels mean.

What I was questioning before was how much we need to learn about LFT results, which the doctors etc do interpret for us My part in it, for me, is managing my condition as well as I can, and enjoying life within my limitations.

Good luck with your reassessment on Wednesday. Sue

Tenter profile image
Tenter in reply to Watfordgirl


It was less than 2 months ago that I was able to do most things slowly, such as get on the exercise bike, make a coffee, put the bins out and drive the car; with only the occasional check of the oxygen levels. The change in the past 2 months has been frightening. Driving not allowed, I look at the exercise bike and did sit on it but oxygen just plummeted. Making coffee now takes 3 lie downs between each stage.

So here is my way of thinking, learn how your body reacts to doing different things and worry about Oxygen levels (Oximeter), if, your body reacts in a different way to the normal.

For lung function tests, I leave that to the doctor, although it can be worrying when the person doing the testing, talks to the senior person who then checks the results and rushes off to see your consultant😰

For now I will worry about the future and changes in oxygen levels, until after we have cruised to find some sun in Spain and Portugal. Of course I may have to put a bed on the balcony and lie there watching.

Watfordgirl profile image
Watfordgirl in reply to Tenter

That's hard, Tenter. It must be really frightening. Do you have good support at home? I do hope so, and that you're not left to worry about things on your own. I also hope they can help you on Wednesday and don't scare you by whispering about you.

Have a fantastic cruise and enjoy the sunshine! Sue x

Tenter profile image
Tenter in reply to Watfordgirl

I have started another topic about my mindset and support team. See Tenter's mindset and support team.

I have just recently had my care taken over by the community respiratory team in stead of my GP I have to phone them if I answer yes to 2 of these questions my o2 sats below 91, I have increased wheeze since yesterday, my sputum has increased in amount and darker in colour, I am more breathless than yesterday and I have increased cough since yesterday . They are open 24 hours a day and on bank holidays and they will com out or give advice over the phone.

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