Below we’ll explain the basics of your blood oxygen level and why it’s an important metric to track, as well as review potential symptoms of low blood oxygen and suggest some steps you can take to help increase it.
Your blood oxygen level is simply the amount of oxygen present in your blood. The most common method for measuring it is a process called pulse oximetry (more on that later). If your blood oxygen level drops too low, it can be a sign or symptom of various medical issues.
In order to function properly, your body requires a constant supply of oxygen. After it is breathed into the lungs, oxygen is transferred to your bloodstream and circulated through your body in red blood cells. Blood oxygen level is an indication of how much oxygen is being distributed to your body by the red blood cells, and maintaining the proper balance of oxygen saturation is very important for your overall health.
Pulse oximeters read your blood oxygen level by shining light through capillary veins near your skin’s surface. They measure it as a percentage, also referred to as SpO2.
A normal blood oxygen level can range from 95-100%. That number is often lower for people with lung diseases or other specific health issues. Blood oxygen levels that fall below 90% are considered quite low. This is called hypoxemia, and may suggest a need to seek medical attention (in particular with cases of COVID-19).
There are a number of things you can do to help boost your blood oxygen level. In the immediate short term:
And on a more long-term basis:
Possible symptoms of low blood oxygen levels include:
Beyond certain medical conditions, low levels of oxygen in your blood can also be the result of changes in your environment–for example, transitioning to a higher altitude where there is a smaller percentage of oxygen in the air.
Most common pulse oximeters track SpO2 from your finger. We implement the same technology to monitor blood oxygen on your wrist, along with a number of other vital signs and key physiological metrics like resting heart rate, heart rate variability, respiratory rate, skin temperature, and sleep.
WHOOP calculates your blood oxygen level during sleep each night (when your body is in its most restful state) to ensure the most reliable and consistent readings. You can check your SpO2 each morning via the Health Monitor feature.
The products and services of WHOOP are not medical devices, are not intended to diagnose COVID-19, the flu or any other disease, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content available through the products and services of WHOOP is for general informational purposes only.