British Lung Foundation
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SpO2 dropping

I was diagnosed with Asthma/COPD several years ago and whenever my GP checked my SpO2 readings they were always 99/98. I have had no debilitating breathing problems until recently.... I bought a Pulse Oximeter a couple of months ago as I was waking up with a strange sensation of restlessness, like I was on edge, and this was sometimes coupled to a headache...the symptoms were those of a mild anxiety or panic attack. I don't use pillows as I like to lie flat and doing so does not cause me breathing problems.

The Oximeter readings I get with my meter start at 97 then quickly drop to 94 and stay thereabouts. Doesn't matter which finger is used on either hand. These readings are the same AM and PM.

I'm also finding that I get extremely tired when simply walking about or doing housework.

I had an MI in 2001 and my heart muscle was slightly damaged. I'm not sure if this recently decrease in physical stamina is a lung problem or something like heart failure. I don't have oedema in my ankles.

Do I need to enquire with my GP about my lungs or heart? I only get a few minutes in an appointment and I don't want to waste time in discussion of investigations which may or may not help with a diagnosis.

23 Replies
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Would definitely speak to your GP. Sounds like co2 retention...

Do you know your FEV?

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You are obviously very stressed Hummingbirdy, and that will lead to your anxiety. I think you need to talk to your G.P again and get a referral to the heart and chest clinic at the hospital to have further tests. Even if the tests come back normal, you will have piece of mind if nothing else. Please stay Intouch with us? Good luck to you 🤞😉

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Just chat with your doc about your symptoms and the oximeter readings as you have mentioned above. You should get a 10 minute appointment, check that with the receptionist when you book the appointment.

It doesn't sound to me like you have a problem with the blood o2 levels. check about Sp02 here:

support.health.nokia.com/hc...

Those symptoms could be relating to *anxiety panic attack perhaps your doc can advise you on that and any self help education courses run by NHS mental health team, PR etc.

With COPD the less you do the more unfit you become, tire more easily and becoming more breathless especially if you have gained weight. If the latter you may want to ask for a referral to **pulmonary rehabilitation course. In addition if you are falling asleep through the day you may want to ask for ***sleep apnoea check. there are check lists on line you can find out more before seeing you GP.

* Anxiety info: blf.org.uk/search/site/anxiety

** PR course info: blf.org.uk/support-for-you/...

*** OSA: blf.org.uk/search/site/slee...

Check also NHS page on OSA: nhs.uk/conditions/obstructi...

After reading the NHS page for symptoms and diagnoses, that may help you decide whether to ask your doc about it or not.

Lots of info on the BLF website and NHS choices site, just use their on site search box.

Hope you can get on a PR course it will help you all round.

Best wishes

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Many thanks for the information links, Bkin. I'll see if I'm eligible for a PR course. I'm not overweight. Exercise is severely limited though as I have a torn meniscus and bakers cyst in my right knee together with trapped sciatic nerves passing through my piriformis muscles. The resulting pain is minimally controlled by regular doses of OxyContin which makes me wonder if that medication causes respiratory problems. I hate the medication as it only masks the pain and steals my brain by around 75%.

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Oh dear Hummingbirdy, you may have to pass on some of the exercise however the PR course is not just about exercise, its also about education on how to manage your respiratory condition that includes the importance of exercise (whatever your weight) which no doubt you will need additional guidance on. Its a comprehensive course concerning lung education and exercise programme. But run it passed your GP or lung specialist to see what they think is right for you at this time.

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oh yes Oxycontin has a lot of common side effects, but still speak with your doctor about these:

Common side effects medicines.org.uk/emc/produc...

Oxycontin

(May affect up to 1 in 10 people)

Dry mouth, loss of appetite, indigestion, abdominal pain or discomfort, diarrhoea.

Confusion, depression, a feeling of unusual weakness, shaking, lack of energy, tiredness, anxiety, nervousness, difficulty in sleeping, abnormal thoughts or dreams.

Difficulty in breathing or wheezing, shortness of breath, decreased cough reflex.

Rash.

Sweating.

I hate that medicines treating one problem can in some people create so many other health issues.

Hope you are feeling better soon.

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An oxygen level of 94 is fine as far as your other organs go. It's only if they start dropping to mid/late 80's that they could be affected.

It's always best to check with your doctor though as other things could be going on. x

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It is also worth noting that not all pulse oximeters are accurate! When you see your GP take it with you and ask the GP to make a comparison between yours and his.

My first one read 3% below and I purchased a second unit and that one was okay and matched the GP's readings.

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Good advice from 2greys my own pulse oximeter reads 96% to 97%. My doctors reads 99%. Also the pain meds you take can also give you headaches. I am on a similar codiene based medication and I do have occasional headaches. I think due to your previous medical history a visit to the GP is well advised.

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Well, thank you each and all. Very helpful suggestions and info supplied. What a wonderful resource people are. I'm a little less concerned about my symptoms now, but will still try to cover what I can in the time I have when I next see my GP.

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You can always book a double appointment that gives you 20 mins :)

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I'll check to see if the practice allows that. Thanks.

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And write down bullet points so you don't leave anything out. x

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Would you not be better with pillows Hummingbirdly Im almost upright to keep airways open ever notice in hospital the patients with respiratory problems are pretty much so im no Dr just a suggestion..I have anxiety probs also sometimes can come from meds talk it over with Dr. Ps my stats are usually around 93..best of luck.Ger

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Pillows do help the breathing, but can cause pain in the neck or stff muscles. I am another one whose stats are normal at 93. It is about what your norm is and whether its below your usually, I would check at home and as long as it is stable and not dropping too low don't worry. I have a cut on my finger with a plaster on and it won't give a reading on that finger, many things can cause varied reading., including infections and which finger you use. Good luck with the GP appointment.

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Hi Katie I've one of those A shaped pillows really help because I've two cracked vertebrae in back and their quite supportive

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Never tried one of those, but I have an adjustable bed. Used to have three pillows or one of those things you pump up to raise the pillow. I've tried alsorts for social services over time for varied problems, someone has to test them :)

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In fairness your bed would same thing,not much fun at say 2 in morning and your finding it hard to breathe Katie,like yourself in have asthma copd plus bronchiectasis and asbestos but must admit I'm getting really good care so upwards and onwards in as much as we can lol,Ger

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Ask GP for full blood count, could be one of many things making you feel tired, ie. thyroid, B12,etc, no harm in testing that's how I discovered my problems.

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I had a hemithyroidectomy and three years of radio iodine ablation to remove my thyroid in the 90's. Five indifferent ENT consultants at Guy's and KCH wasted six years insisting the increasingly excruciating golfball sized tumour on my neck was "nothing to worry about" and dismissed it as a sebaceous cyst. It was an STD clinic doctor who finally recognised all my symptoms were due to the growth (same as hyper and hypo thyroid) and had me see a specialist within a couple of days with surgical removal of the mass a week later.

The MI I had in 2001 came as a direct result of my heart working like the clappers 24/7 as I was incorrectly prescribed 500ug of Thyroxine a day for four years.

I mention this as I have a distrust of doctors and their mixed abilities. I get worried and flustered prior to my GP appointments as I don't want to confuse them and waste time mentioning spurious symptoms. What with tapping on their keyboards and looking generally distracted by what pops up on their monitors, I find the appointment ends abruptly and no conclusions reached.

I don't know if the surgery I attend allows double bookings but I will check on Monday.

Cheers, kind people!

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You should book a double appointment with your doctor to give you time to discuss everything. Marian x

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I will look in to that possibility, mas7656. Ta!

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Hi Hummingbirdy

I have emphysema and cad

My Spo2 is all over the place,yesterday for example I only walked to the front garden and my heart rate went to 140bpm but the %spo2 dropped to 84 but sitting writing this again it is strange as my heart rate was 64 and %spo2 98 and has literally just gone to heart rate 42 bpm %spo2 89

I have to admit I am not going to panic as I am due to see the specialists on the 12th of this month so will go through it all then, but as someone else has suggested, keep a record of what it is doing, I am lucky in the sense my device keeps a record and downloads it to my computer so I am able to transfer the data to my pad for the specialists to see.

Do hope things improve for you and that GP can help

Ronnie x

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