My oxygen level is 98 but I am increasingly short of breath. is this common?

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33 Replies

  • O2Sats do not relate directly with sob that is due to narrowing or restriction of airways. This can result in hyperventilation and high O2sats. Take care, Richard
  • Yes, very common. You must understand that shortness of breath is not directly linked to low oxygen saturation in the blood. They are two different issues so you can be SOB with a high oxygen level and can have a low oxygen level without too much SOB.
  • Short of breath symptom checker
  • Hi , If I were you I would get your shortness of breath checked out with your doc or nurse tomorrow. If I had oxygen sats of 98 I would be skipping down the street.! If shortness of breath is not normal for you then best get yourself checked out. Good Luck and keep well.
  • Last week I saw the chief resp nurse, was very breathless but my oxygen level was 97 so she said I was fine.Yet I`ve been carted off in the ambulance before now gasping , with a high oxygen reading. The ambulance man did explain it to me but I can`t remember what he said so auntymary`s explanation is brilliant and I shan`t feel like a fraud in future, Best wishes, mskpjb (Sheila)
  • my husband has copd , doctors have said he is not far from end stage but his sats always remain high 97 or 98 but he cant walk far he is so breathless it is almost unbelievable but his sats are still good , he has a community matron come around once a week and she takes his sats and they remain good but his breathing deteriots Even i cant answer why wish someone could
    got luck xx
  • I always have good sats, even when I'm really bad. On a good day I can only walk around slowly within the house, but sats always good. Don't know why they bother taking it to be honest!
  • Hi Libby the reason they take sats is because if your oxygen level is too low, then you would need to be on oxygen. All of your organs would be deprived of oxygen....that would not be good. This is the explanation they gave to me. I even had a sleep test where they put the pulse oximeter on you while you sleep,and it monitors your level all night long. If it gets to low at night one might need oxygen only for sleeping. Hope this helped. Barb
  • Thank you all! I am seeing my doctor this week and I will let you all the outcme
  • hi my breathing was getting worse .ithought it was my copd was getting .had pulse taken when i went for flu result pulse racing reading 150 had ecg admitted to hospital for 3 days on heart monitr now on tablet to slow heart rate and warfirin much better so don t think everything is copd getting worse .always ask questions .
  • Im in a similair situation..i have copd and sats of 98% but im always short of breath and cant do anything physical without can be very confusing and frustrating because people assume you must be doing well.
  • ooften due to heart condition
  • It is hard to understand why we can have sats of 98% and be breathless. I think it has a lot to do with respiratory drive and the fact that breathing is very hard work for people like us. Many, many times I have just wanted to lie down and just stop because I have been so exhausted. People who have never felt this way should just spend an hour in our shoes and they will see just how frightening it is to be breathless. It is so easy to stick a sats monitor on your finger and tell you you have 98%, tell you that you are fine when you are visibly gasping, terrified and suffering.
  • Hi there

    I have individual sats of 98% but when I monitered myself over some hours with a wrist oxymeter that records the oxygen levels, my levels averaged out at 87% throughout the day. I uploaded them to my computer and printed them out. This has helped me to get the proper attention from some doctors.

    I have episodes of hyperventilating [over breathing because I am breathless] along with my oxygen levels going up and down all the time, so without recording your levels over a space of time it doesn't really give a good indication, in my opinion.

    If you had a basic oxymeter at home and give it a try in different circumstances, leaving it on for a while when you do......this may help to get a better understanding.

    Hope this helps
  • Thanks so much. Very helpful idea!
  • Thank you makes a lot of sence ,I know I need oxygen sometimes.
  • Unfortunately, some people are not suitable for oxygen as they retain carbon dioxide, I am one of them. I can be practically on my knees sometimes and my sats are still around 90. I'm not allowed oxy, although some retainers are. If you put "retainer" in the search bar at the top right hand corner it will come up with some posts on the subject. x
  • So is mine.
  • my sister age 25 years off n on breathlessness whate kind of oxygen should i keep at my home for emmergency and nubulize like sulbutamol with steroid is help full for her
  • whatever your sister's doctor prescribes, absolutely nothing else.
  • I cant even walk ten feet without being short og breath
  • i have severe emphysema, i struggle often and my muscles get very fatigued. Whenever i go to my doctors i am told my oxygen levels are good and quite often i am left feeling like a great big fake. I cant seem to get any answers or reasons, just blood tests etc. I have learnt more from reading the comments below than i have from any other source open to me. It is a frightening disease to have and made worse when you cannot get answers from those who are treating you. I thank each and everyone of you for your comments. x
  • Dear Wizzy-wig,

    For years I have had episodes of being SOB and after ruling everything else out, including my documented asthma, I FINALLY tracked it down to the CARAMEL COLORING in the foods I was eating, usually in the brown or tan foods, BUT even the red colored foods like Stouffer's frozen Italian dishes (like their stuffed peppers etc.) have CC in them. (I check every label and also get the ingredient list from fast food restaurants as well.)

    The periods of being SOB would normally occur about four hours after eating such foods and because they were often eaten late, the resulting problem of being SOB almost always occured at night - either awakening me or keeping me from going to sleep.

    Only through happenstance did I discover that I could REVERSE the effects of CARAMEL COLORING by simply taking Vitamin B-6 (and B-6 alone), which then allowed me to breath freely again, and get to sleep - and it has worked great for thirty years!

    BUT I never checked my O2 levels during most of this time until the last few years when I was put on O2 at night, and to my surprise, during times of being SOB, my O2 was higher than normal - as high as 98-99% - AND the O2 I was on was doing nothing to help - and might have been making it worse! (Today I normally remove the O2 cannula until the B-6 works.)

    BUT once the B-6 does whatever it does and I can breath easily again (usually within 15-30 minutes), I check my O2 level and can see it has dropped to 94%, or even much lower, and then I fall to sleep.

    I know this is only anecdotal account, and solution, and it is certainly counterintuitive, but it has never failed ME yet – though I do have to take more B-6 today when the trouble begins to get the same incredible relief (about 500mg today vs 100mg three decades ago) .

    I really hope this helps.

  • JPPL,
    I'm a tremendous believer in Niacin (B-3) and wondered if when you say you take ONLY B-6 does that mean to exclusion of any OTHER medicines or vitamins? If so, do you think they would defeat the purpose of B-6, or do you mean to say you only take B-6 because you feel that's all that's needed...?
    Hope to hear more...,
  • I have a same weird symptoms. I get tired very quickly. I even had rhabdomyolysis after running for 10 minutes on that machine while feeling bad and while being hooked up on those EKG and oximeter wires a few years ago, and I have been in hospital for one month and i was released with unknown origin of rhabdomyolysis. Symptoms usually disappear when laying in hospital for a few days and normalize.
    A few months ago I ended up in a hospital because of severe hypophosphatemia. Phosphate went back to normal after 2 days in hospital without any treatment. All results very normal, and their conclusion was that I am having chronic "Respiratory Alkalosis" caused by breathing too much air, as that causes drop in CO2 and loss of phosphate and as breathing level controls blood pH and as phosphate is main buffer for blood pH and it is also critical component of ATP (the only source of all energy for every cell---> glucose+phosphate is ATP, and glucose+oxygen+ATP is even more ATP, or you could say Adenosine + 5 molecules of Phosphate is ATP, or AMP+one molecule of phosphate equals to ADP, and ADP+1 phosphate is ATP...) and phosphatase is crucial for building DNA (as most of DNA is phosphate and some sugar, nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen) (take a look at Wikipedia for nucleotides), that causes severe lack of energy for cells and dis-balance of pH which can cause cellular death and coma. They told me to breath in paper bag, that is to breath in air with concentrated CO2 and stop CO2 loss, as CO2 (bicarbonates) level is crucial to normalize everything.
    I have same problems with my own oximeter showing me sometimes when I feel sleepy me O2 saturation of 80% and sometimes when I feel OK it constantly shows 99% and when I go to Emergency Room and they take arterial gases it shows O2 sat of 99,3%, high alkalosis, and severely low CO2 levels, and very low Phosphorous, and sometimes just a bit tiny lower potassium. I feel stupid too as doctors don't really help me at all. They tell me I breath too much oxygen and that I am "TOO HEALTHY" and that that much me psychological condition, even though I went to psychologist while in hospital and he told me that i am psychologically fine and healthy.

    Which is weird I do not have panic attacks and I am very calm. I breath thru my nose and I breath slowly and which is weird when I feel bad I breath even more slowly as if someone is sitting on my chest. I started drinking a lot of regular coke as it is completely made of Phosphoric Acid and I take Vitamin D3 to increase absorption of phosphorus from coke. That helps a lot but I still get those symptoms a lot and it is in 95% of cases when I get sleepy in the evening or sometimes in the morning when I wake up. It is, it seems to me, that I get worse in periods when brain is shutting down and as brain consumes most of oxygen and energy. Also it gets worse half a day after running. Perhaps this is some condition smart people have as my IQ is over 140. They did bone density test in hospital and everything is more than fine....
    But with every energy consuming act, this is awkward to say, even sex, and running increases severity of symptoms. I guess I deplete phosphorous. Also, when I eat too much sugar I get those symptoms as well, because more glucose in your blood more phosphate your cells need to use up that glucose to produce ATP. Even from taking amino-acid supplements I get worse, as it seems everything that speeds up energy usage and mythosis gets me feeling bad. i have been looking on Wikipedia and it seems that level of phosphate in the body is controlled by stem cells in our bones, as they secrete FGF-23 (fibroblast growth factor 23) but very little is known about it, as it is newly discovered thing, and it controls levels of Vitamin D, it controls how much phosphate intestines absorb, and it controls how much phosphate kidneys are eliminating.
    I am truly, sorry for rude words, pissed of as this is destroying my life. I have been into sports for my whole life and now I get tired all the time, and all that with 32 years of age.
    I did some research that respiratory alkalosis can be caused by asthma, but I am not sure how, and weird thing is I have had severe asthma up to when I was 9 yo, and then I guess hormones and puberty kicked in and i lost asthma.

    If anyone has any suggestions or if some of us share some similar previous diseases like asthma or what ever, maybe we can eliminate some of causes because I don't thrust doctor at all anymore. i had to figure out myself that problem could be in low P, and I had to insist every time that they check for P levels as the usually check for all other electrolytes but now P levels... and I had to suggest to them that it could be respiratory alkalosis as I knew from before that i had often high blood pH while ending up in ER constantly.

    I am afraid to breath in plastic bad when my oximeter shows low O2, but when they take arterial O2 it shows as too high. And I cannot stop breathing at all...and when I feel bad I breath too slow and shallow and with many pauses. So I am not sure if low P is caused by too high respiration rate.

    Hope this helps someone, as I did massive amount of lab results and it is free... It is I guess good that medical care is free in my country, Croatia, as I would go bankrupt if I was in the US. But still if someone has any suggestion what to look for further, I am desperate to try.
  • Yes this is very common. My SATs are 95 to 98 but can get breathless bending over to tie my shoes. Hang in there.
  • very breathless pain in ribs but oxygen levels good
  • I have had the same problem for years to the point that light housework etc am so breathless . I feel lazy as no energy to do anything. However after many years mentioning this to my GP was eventually referred to a respiritery consultant.

    diagnosed with 3 types of dysfunctional breathing --- explained to me that my oxygen levels are fine but I have love carbon dioxide levels because of not breathing correctly,

    oxygen is carried by heamoglobin in the blood to the organs and muscles. It is released when it passes through the lungs where there is high levels of carbon dioxide, A chemical reaction happens and the oxygen is released from the heamoglobin to travel to the organs and muscles.

    consultant said this is very debilitating , i have to have breathing and kung rehabilitation.

    I hope this helps as its not easily recognised .

    best wishes
  • oops typos -low carbon dioxide and lung clinic lol
  • Having about the same issue, had a little scare had to go to the er with chest pains and shortness of breath, I have copd but my ox. level always fairly good. I was admitted and had test ran and more breathing treatment elevated blood test caused me to have more test, the end result on discharge was acute copd exhasberation(sorry spelled wrong) I go to another doctor on tomorrow and another doctor 27. I am now wheezing short of breath more steroids and breathing meds and nebulizer,,,,,,,,,,I don't is all so confusing. hope you feel better soon
  • Are there any actual ANSWERS from healthcare professionals, or is this just a sort of blog for those of us suffering from SOB with normal or high O2-saturation levels?
    How about turning a nurse, or MD or OD or Respiratory expert to this blog, so they can provide actual useful information?
  • Better than that Geoff, here you have support & information from people some of whom have lifelong experience of lung conditions and have done lots of research which theyre happy to pass on. Many appear to know more than your average nurse or doctor. BLF also run a telephone helpline you can phone for expert advice from respiratory nurses 03000 030 555. Robin

    ed: by the way this is a 3 year old thread - best to start a new one. R
  • My stats have been between 90and 95 for the past few years all ways breathless even with out a exacerbation they only send you to hospital if your stats are under 88


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