British Lung Foundation
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Sat levels should I be using oxygen?

I had bad pneumonia and was in hospital for over 5 weeks during Dec/Jan. My sat levels where averaging 88 and after much debate I was sent home with oxygen. I used it regularly when I came home and then felt that I needed it less and less and haven`t used it now at all for 3 weeks. Is your sat levels something that might get better if you have had lung truama? I`m not not sure if I should be using it regularly regardless. On a recent visit to the doctors I mentioned it to the nurse and thought she would test my sats but looked at my nails and said that she could tell by the pink colour in them that my sats looked ok and not to worry. I don`t see my consultant until July but I guess he can put me more in the picture.

9 Replies

Hello SusieQs

I would ring the helpline for a bit of advice 03000 030555.



If you were prescribed oxygen I can't really understand why you would stop using it? My advice would be to go back onto it until you have seen your consultant.


Hi susieQS,

How a nurse can say she can tell by the colour of your nails I do not know. My nails are still pink when my sats are down to 72...................!!!!! Stay on the 02 till a DOCTOR tells you to come off it. Last time I was in hospital with Pneumonia, the doctor in attendance told the nurse to take me off oxygen to see how I go. I told him I was on it 24/7 and had been for 10 years, and he quickly changed his tune. Had not read my notes properly.

PLEASE do NOT stop taking the oxygen till told you should. It can do untold damage and you could end up with organ failure as the oxygen helps to oxygenate your heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, etc, etc. Do you have a COPD nurse? If not, ring your nearest hospital and ask to speak to one for advice. Hope this helps.


I agree with Gwen I am on oxygen 15/24, have been since a spell in hospital with an exacerbation, which caused slight heart failure. The oxygen does not help your breathing ensures that your other organs get the oxygen they need to work efficiently. This should have been explained to you when it was prescribed for you. You really should using it as you were told, don't wait until you see the consultant. Keep smiling.

Carole x


Thanks for your replies. I thought that oxygen was given to you to just help with breathlessness but I know different now! I see the respiratory nurse in May but I am going to try to ring and speak to her today and discuss my concerns with her. They don`t tell you much in hospital.

Sue x


My husband was prescribed oxygen and he thought that by using it, it would stop him being out of breath when walking about. When he was still breathless after using it he said, this is rubbish it is not helping at all. I rang the hospital and explained to them what was happening so they organised a physio to come and visit him, she explained that the oxygen was not prescribed to stop him being breathless but to protect his organs and to make his recovery time quicker. Before he was prescribed oxygen, when he had done anything physical, it took him 15 minutes to recover and get his breath back, but when he was on oxygen he recovered more or less straight away. It took him ages to get it through his head that this was why he was on it. He was under the impression that he could stick the oxygen mask on and run the darned marathon. He is now sorted out.

If you are prescribed oxygen, please use it until you see your specialist again.


Hi , I bought myself a finger oximeter on ebay. I'm on oxygen 24/7

but I still use the oxymeter to check my stats every morning, it is usually 97 whilst sitting at rest, so I know my body cells are being adequately fed with oxygen. As soon as I start to move about my stats plummet alarmingly and I become frighteningly breathless. Do you get breathless when moving about, this is a good indicator of oxygen demand, checkout my website As recommended above have a chat with the BLF nurse.

Best wishes


Thanks Phillip. I have just sent for an oximeter today off ebay. I bet I`ll get obsessed looking at it all the time and frighten myself to death!


Sit comfortably and you will not frighten yourself when you check your Sp02%, run upstairs and you may be terrified with the Sp02%.. From rest to activity your bodys demand for oxygen increases almost immediately by 25 to 50 times. Our problem is that due to lung damage we cannot transfer oxygen fast enough to satisfy the demand and we get breathless. We also need to feed our bodies continuously with oxygen, every cell needs oxygen with the only exception of the cornea(s or i) in our eyes, they get their oxygen from the air.


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