What is the Normal Oxygen Level? How to Check Your Own Oxygen Level

If you have COPD any other chronic lung condition, you probably know what it means to have a lower than normal blood oxygen saturation level. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is just one example, but it means that your lungs' ability to bring in enough oxygen is compromised. The tiny air sacks in your lungs have been damaged, so you can't absorb enough oxygen through these sacks into your bloodstream.

It's important to have a certain level of oxygen, versus a certain level of carbon dioxide in your blood at one time. The carbon dioxide is carried back to your lungs, where it is breathed out when you exhale. The oxygen you breathed in gets delivered to every part of your body, as part of the fuel you need to keep your body working properly.

Your heart and your brain are two of the most important organs in your body, and they use the most oxygen out of any other part of your body. Your brain alone uses over 20% of the oxygen you breathe in. If it doesn't get enough over time, your brain cells will begin to die. If your heart isn't getting enough oxygen over time, you can develop heart disease.

What is the Normal Oxygen Level

So what is the normal oxygen level? People who are breathing normal, who have relatively healthy lungs (or asthma that is under control), will have a blood oxygen level of 95% to 100%. Anything between 92% and 88%, is still considered safe and average for someone with moderate to severe COPD. Below 88% becomes dangerous, and when it dips to 84% or below, it's time to go to the hospital. Around 80% and lower is dangerous for your vital organs, so you should be treated right away.

Your blood oxygen level will also go down a little when you are exercising unless your doctor has instructed you to turn your flow setting up while you are exercising, making up for this change. Depending on the model, your oxygen concentrator might also adjust to meet this need for more oxygen while you are physically active.

Oxygen Saturation Levels

Oxygen Saturation Levels

You can check your blood oxygen level, to make sure you're in the safe zone, with a handheld pulse oximeter. These are easy to use and work just like the ones used in doctor's offices and hospitals. It presses against either side of your fingertip and gives a quick reading through the screen located directly on the pulse oximeter.

There are no big pieces of equipment – just something that is easy to read, and easy to carry around with you. The one we have at American Medical is a little over 2 inches long, and only weighs 2 ounces! You can check your blood oxygen level at any time with your handheld pulse oximeter.

Watch out for these warning signs that your blood oxygen level has gone down. Shortness of breath, fatigue, headaches, and body aches are all signs that your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. Get it checked with your pulse oximeter, and call your doctor right away.

Oxygen Level 80

Information on this page is for reference and educational purposes only. For more information, talk to your doctor or primary care provider.

Updated: January 31, 2019

About Scott Ridl: Scott joined American Medical Sales and Rentals in 2008 as a Web Manager and Content Writer. He is a writer and designer. He is extensively trained on oxygen therapy products from leading manufacturers such as Inogen, Respironics, Chart, Invacare, ResMed and more. Scott works closely with respiratory therapists and oxygen specialists to educate the community about oxygen therapy products, COPD, asthma and lung diseases. He writes weekly columns and is passionate about educating the community on oxygen therapy and respiratory issues.

43 thoughts on “What is the Normal Oxygen Level? How to Check Your Own Oxygen Level”

  • Joseph Vozzo

    When you are taking a lot of pills prednisone , water , doxyccline , furosemide does that hurt your breathing?

    Reply
    • Danielle Jason

      Thank you for your question, Joseph. This is something you will need to speak to your individual physician regarding as they will know the insights into your individual medical condition, allergies, abilities, and possible solutions/issues when starting a new form of therapy.

      Reply
    • Steve

      You are not giving any good information these people just like me are suffering from COPD Medicare has there guidelines which you have to be dead before they'll give you oxygen you people are an adult people you know what you need if you need the oxygen get the oxygen even if you have to pay for it out of pocket this is BS go see your doctor so they can tell you oh you don't need oxygen my O2 level drops and 88% that's not a good enough oxygen level according to Medicare if you want your lungs to heal you need to take care of it nobody else will, you need to work with your doctor and tell him you'll pay cash and get yourself straightened out. Good luck to all of you out there who have my condition.

      Reply
      • Susan

        Steve you are 100 percent correct. Medicare requires a person to be dead to get oxygen. I have had this experience over and over with my husband who had tumors in his lungs and suffers greatly. Medicare oxygen requirements are a joke. Sometimes a good doctor will fudge the results.

        Reply
        • Kathy

          I have COPD. I had no problems at all getting oxygen from Medicare. That was even before having 2 exacerbation that required hospitalization in April & again in June. Can you change doctors? That may be where the problem in not getting oxygen lies.

          Reply
          • Scott Ridl

            We cannot speak to if you can change doctors or make any recommendations with regards to your doctor. We can help you select the best oxygen concentrator for you oxygen and lifestyle needs. Please reach out to us at: 877-644-4581.

            Reply
      • Elaine

        Well I just went for breathing test 2009 2013 2019 been checked 2009 2013 no change doc has COPD on my records2019 doesn't look like that say ing upstruction don't know where IAM at oxgen good

        Reply
        • Scott Ridl

          Please continue to work with your doctor with regards to your oxygen levels and call us at: 1-877-644-4581 if you have questions regarding oxygen therapy.

          Reply
  • Christopher John Matlock
    Christopher John Matlock March 24, 2018 at 8:26 am

    Hi I have late stage copd my breathing seams to be burning when breath in my oxegyen lol is at 89 / heart rate 90 talking is hard just took 2:5 atrevent 2.5 subutamal

    Reply
  • Chuck Prince

    I get vastly different readings depending on which hand I place the oximeter. I get numbers around 99 on the right handadda while I get high 80's on my left hand. I have COPD (Pretty serious COPD) and I am confused by this anomaly. Any thoughts?

    Reply
    • Margaret Goodman
      Margaret Goodman April 16, 2018 at 3:52 am

      We see this happen with people who come in as well. If you are concerned about your oxygen levels I recommend going into your doctor's office and having it checked.

      Reply
  • Johnnie Lee

    Doctor, I have just recently gotten off of oxygen. My blood oxygen was 93. My question is,is it good for me to be off of oxygen.

    Reply
    • Margaret Goodman
      Margaret Goodman April 16, 2018 at 3:45 am

      It is always good to hear when someone has been taken off of oxygen. However, if you have concerns you should set up a time to speak with your doctor. It is always a good idea to speak with your doctor about your concerns about being off of oxygen.

      Reply
      • Barbara

        My mother has copd & her oxygen level is 87 right now. Is that good? But, I’m reading the comments & you’re not answering any of the questions. You’re referring everyone to see their doctor, which is ok! But, I don’t see you giving any expertise in any of the issues.

        Reply
        • Margaret Goodman
          Margaret Goodman October 12, 2018 at 11:02 am

          A good oxygen level is considered to be 88 or higher. Since her level is at 87 it might be time to consult with her doctor to see what the next steps are in her oxygen therapy.

          Reply
        • Stephanie Gill
          Stephanie Gill May 27, 2019 at 7:41 am

          Sometimes people cannot afford to go to doc and Will not go unless they know its serious enough

          Reply
          • Sheila Wall

            Stephanie, the store isn't allowed to say anything that could them in trouble, but I can. I am an oxygen user. Their article says "Below 88% becomes dangerous" and I agree. That is too low. Best wishes.

            Reply
  • Lois

    I went to my dr for a check up and told her I give out of breath when I walk she ask me to come go walking with her she put a o2 thing on my finger and we started walking my o2 stoped she sent me to a heart dr all the test from that came back Good so what could it be.

    Reply
    • Margaret Goodman
      Margaret Goodman May 30, 2018 at 3:54 am

      We recommend that you if you feel like you are still having issues that you continue talking with your doctor. We are not doctors and can not guess what your issues might be.

      Reply
  • Debra Mills

    I'm a CO2 retainer when it rest I leave my oxygen at 1.5 L to L if I rest all day cuz I give my body throughout my body enough oxygen or am I depriving it of oxygen even if my saturation level reads 88 and above normally it stays around 95

    Reply
    • Margaret Goodman
      Margaret Goodman June 18, 2018 at 6:26 am

      A healthy oxygen saturation level is 95 or above. I would consult with your doctor about what he would like to see as your optimal oxygen saturation level.

      Reply
      • kevin m linsao
        kevin m linsao April 15, 2019 at 4:32 am

        Hello,,my oxygen level is always 92,,,but a little trip only at the bathroom,,it change to 88,,is that normal?

        Reply
        • Ed Rodgers

          O2 levels will change with activity. Whether it is normal for you is something that your doctor will be able to help you better understand as everybody has different readings and conditions.

          Reply
  • Raj

    Thank you so much for the valuable information. What should be the standard puls reading for someone who is hiking in high altitude over 5000m? Does it still apply the same ration between 95-100%? What is the safe amount of puls reading consider as a safety line?
    Thank you so much for your answer!

    Reply
    • Margaret Goodman
      Margaret Goodman June 20, 2018 at 5:11 am

      This can vary based on a number of factors. I would recommend talking with your doctor to find out what is best for you and your situation.

      Reply
  • ethy

    Is the Oxygen level reader through samsung health on the phones with the sensor using the finger, usually accurate?

    Reply
    • Margaret Goodman
      Margaret Goodman July 12, 2018 at 10:44 am

      I would talk with your doctor to determine if he/she is comfortable with you using this. You can also look at checking the accuracy of it by using a pulse oximeter and compare the reading to the one on the Samsung.

      Reply
  • U s upadhyay

    When i come from bath room.my oxygen level is 82.it increases autometically to 95 on relaxing.pl advice

    Reply
    • Margaret Goodman

      It may be time to revisit with your doctor and discuss your oxygen levels. You may need to increase the setting or if you are on pulse dose you may need to move to a continuous flow option. The best thing to do is to set up time with your doctor to discuss your current concerns.

      Reply
  • Mayank Gupta

    My father is 68 years old and has mild COPD. He was also heavy smoker but quit smoking completely 12 years ago. Today while checking his BP, nurse checked the oxygen level which was 95%. I just wanted to know if its low? Is there any cause of worry. BTW his BP was fine and pulse rate was around 84.

    Reply
  • David

    There were some good questions. I have lived with a person on oxygen for a few years. From these questions, I mite as well take them to the Dr. Hers is 97, but on safe side I should take her. Not ask a question here but wait, the Dr does not have or live with a person on oxygen. All it is now is CMA. When it comes down to it. Believe me, my Dad just passed, he was shopping, driving, cooking and yard work. A cough started, after 4 Dr visits and 3 times taken to hospital. He died in 6 weeks. Lost 25 lbs, discharge from first 2 hospital visits in less than 24 hours with fluid in lungs, kidney infection very bad an could not stand on his own. He had very good insurance and a check book made of paper. Our system is broken. If I could write, I could write a book on how he was treated those 6:weeks and people would be shocked. He even had a home health nurse that was seeing him. That was a joke in it self. That's why the Dr on here didn't answer any questions. Scared of being sued. If you do the right thing and get sued, you will be ok. In this life or the next. These Drs that treated my Dad, well let's just say theirs will be on the other side. Thanks

    Reply
  • Rose Boobyer

    My husband has severe cold and broncheasttis he has home oxygen for 15 hours daily on 2 litres. His oxygen reading at bedtime is about 90 so should I reduce oxygen to 1 litre to stop it going to high for him

    Reply
    • Ed Rodgers

      Hi Rose, I would give his physician a call to discuss. With a cold and being on oxygen isn't fun but before you adjust his oxygen, let the doctor know and provide some guidance.

      Reply
  • Joan McClure

    I live under 1,000 ft in elevation here in Northern California. I'm considering moving near my family into an area about 5,000 ft. I use an oxygen concentrator. Will it work the same in the higher elevation?

    Reply
    • Ed Rodgers

      Yes. But depending on your prescription and machine, you may want to check in with who you bought your machine from and your doctor as to the potential adjustments.

      Reply
  • Anthony. Sourigo
    Anthony. Sourigo July 26, 2019 at 12:21 pm

    Should. Icontinue. To keep machine onifmyoxygen. Level is. At98. Or97

    Reply
  • mr ken salt

    i been docs today my oxygen level is 95, is that good, i havnt been very well of late back pain, swollen left calf, which he says is ok, my wife noticed my bottom lip was going a bit blue, so doc did oxygen check

    Reply

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