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How to improve blood oxygen levels?

Other Medical Conditions and HBOT | Published: April 16th 2024, 05:03PM

Four actionable tips on how to increase blood oxygen levels


Blood oxygen levels, also known as oxygen saturation (Sp02), measure the amount of oxygen in your blood. When you inhale, oxygen travels into your lungs and attaches to hemoglobin in your red blood cells. Oxygen-rich blood moves throughout your body to generate cellular activities and energy production. Maintaining healthy blood oxygen levels is crucial as it ensures your organs and tissues function at their best. 

Prolonged periods of low blood oxygen levels can lead to several complications, including headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath, and, in severe instances, damage to the brain and heart tissues. [1]

Keep reading to find four actionable tips on how to improve your blood oxygen levels and maintain overall health. 


What are the causes of low blood oxygen?

Low blood oxygen levels, known as hypoxemia, occur when oxygen saturation in your blood drops below normal levels. Numerous factors and conditions can disrupt your body’s blood oxygen levels and lead to hypoxemia. Some common causes of low oxygen levels include: 

Respiratory infections:
Conditions like pneumonia and COVID-19 can compromise the respiratory system’s ability to breathe effectively.

Chronic lung conditions: Diseases such as asthma, COPD, lung cancer, and cystic fibrosis impair lung function.

Anemia: Low red blood cell count or hemoglobin reduces the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity.

Heart disease: Issues like congenital heart disease and heart failure can affect the heart’s efficiency in pumping oxygenated blood.

Sleep apnea: Breathing disruptions during sleep can lead to periodic oxygen level drops.

Pulmonary embolism: A blood clot in the lung arteries can obstruct the flow of oxygen-rich blood.

Stroke: Low blood oxygen levels are expected after a stroke. This is because the brain has been deprived of the oxygen it needs to function correctly. [2]


Environmental and situational elements can also impact blood oxygen levels, such as:


Altitude: Higher altitudes have less atmospheric oxygen, potentially causing hypoxemia in those unacclimatized.

Exercise: Strenuous activities increase oxygen demand; those with underlying conditions may experience drops in SpO2.

Smoking: Tobacco use damages the lungs and increases the risk for chronic hypoxemia and lung diseases.

Medications: Some drugs, like opioids and benzodiazepines, can suppress respiration or affect oxygen transport. [1]


Tips on how to improve blood oxygen levels


Tip #1: Hydrate

Keeping the body hydrated is paramount for maintaining good health, including efficient oxygen transport. Water plays a vital role in the blood’s capability to transfer oxygen to cells. Appropriate hydration helps ensure that your blood preserves an optimal consistency for oxygen delivery throughout the body.

Tip #2: Exercise regularly

Cardio exercises boost your breathing rate, enhancing oxygen absorption, while stretching increases blood flow, oxygen, and nutrients to your muscles. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces strain on the respiratory system, improves lung function, and raises blood oxygen levels. 

Tip #3: Have a healthy diet 

Diet significantly impacts blood oxygen levels. Include nitrogen-rich dark leafy greens like kale and spinach to aid oxygen transport. Add iron-rich foods such as white beans, tofu, and dark chocolate to enhance blood production. Also, include antioxidant-rich fruits like blueberries and cranberries to boost blood flow and oxygen delivery to tissues. 

Tip #4: Practice breathing exercises

Pulmonary rehabilitation specialists suggest practicing straightforward breathing techniques, such as pursed-lip breathing and deep belly breathing, to expand your airways and enhance your oxygen levels. [3]

Tip #5: Consider Hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a powerful treatment for boosting blood oxygen levels. By sitting in a pressurized chamber and inhaling 100% oxygen, HBOT enhances circulation and facilitates more oxygen absorption into the bloodstream. Research indicates that the pressurized environment significantly improves oxygen delivery throughout the body. 

Related Resource: 
How does hyperbaric oxygen therapy work?


What are normal oxygen levels by age?

Healthy adults and children can expect normal blood oxygen levels to range between 95% and 100%. However, if they suffer from a lung condition like COPD or pneumonia, their typical oxygen saturation could be lower. Living at a high altitude can also lower oxygen saturation levels for anyone at any age. Therefore, it is essential to check with your healthcare provider to ensure your oxygen levels are optimal if you reside in a high-altitude environment. [4]


What is a pulse oximeter, and how do I use it? 

Understanding the factors that influence your oxygen saturation can help you better manage your overall health. Consider using a blood oxygen pulse meter, also known as a pulse oximeter, which is a simple and effective way to monitor these levels regularly. To use a pulse oximeter, clip the device onto your middle or index finger, and it will display your blood oxygen level within a few seconds. 

You can buy a pulse oximeter online or at a pharmacy, but not all devices are the same. Prescription devices differ significantly from over-the-counter (OTC) models:


Prescription pulse oximeters: FDA-tested and approved for accuracy; these devices are mainly used in medical settings like hospitals and doctors’ offices. Sometimes, they may be prescribed for home use.


OTC pulse oximeters: These are available without a prescription online or in pharmacies but are not FDA-reviewed and may be less accurate. [5]


Oximeters provide quick, noninvasive readings that can help you stay informed. Typically, an OTC oximeter reading inaccuracy can be 4% above or below a reading. 


What is a dangerously low oxygen level?

If your oxygen saturation readings drop below 92%, it may be a sign of hypoxia, a condition in which insufficient oxygen reaches the body’s tissues. If blood oxygen saturation levels fall to 88% or lower, seek immediate medical attention. [6]


Hyperbaric oxygen therapy and blood oxygen levels

In a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber, air pressure levels are 1.5 to 3 times higher than average, allowing your lungs to obtain much more oxygen than breathing pure oxygen at normal air pressure. [7] HBOT treatment ensures sufficient oxygen absorption and distribution throughout the body by delivering oxygen at higher concentrations than ambient air. 


HBOT can help mitigate symptoms from low blood oxygen, including:

  • Improved organ function
  • Enhanced physical stamina
  • Relief from breathlessness and fatigue 


When the body’s tissue is damaged, sufficient oxygen is needed to function optimally. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) enhances your blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity, providing an elevated level of oxygen that can assist in the healing process. [8] If you have low blood oxygen levels, it’s crucial to consult with your healthcare provider to determine if HBOT is an appropriate treatment option for your condition. 


How we can help

At Hyperbaric Healing Treatment Center, we are here to support your healing journey. With our qualified team, highest safety standards, comfortable environment, and commitment to welcoming all patients, our goal is to prioritize you and ensure your needs are met throughout your experience at our centers in Orlando and New Smyrna Beach. 

Our state-of-the-art Sechrist 3600 monoplane hyperbaric chambers are made of clear acrylic and equipped with streaming capabilities so you can relax and watch your favorite TV show during treatment.


Our team of hyperbaric specialists is ready to answer any questions you may have before undergoing treatment! We welcome you to contact us today.



1: Health | What Are Blood Oxygen Levels?

2: UAB Medical West | Understanding Strokes

3: WebMD | How to Increase Your Blood Oxygen Level

4: Cleveland Clinic | Blood Oxygen Level

5: Good RX Health | How Accurate Are Pulse Oximeter Readings?

6: Yale Medicine | Pulse Oximetry

7: John Hopkins Medicine | Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

8: Mayo Clinic | Hyperbaric oxygen therapy

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