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A. Schuyler, NP
A. Schuyler, NP, Nurse Practitioner
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 16292
Experience:  Board Certified NP, MS, RN. 25 years private practice & hospitalist
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I am on oxygen assistance. Without the oxygen assistance

Customer Question

I am on oxygen assistance. Without the oxygen assistance sometimes the oxymeter sometimes shows readings as low as 80. When is low too low?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  A. Schuyler, NP replied 2 years ago.
Welcome to Just Answer and thanks for requesting me. Answers provided are for informational use only and don't confer patient-provider relationship.
A pulse oximetry reading below 90 is unacceptable. Medicare automatically pays for supplemental oxygen for patients at 88%. You should never be as low as 80. You should use your oxygen as directed to keep the reading above 90. Pulse oximeter readings may be suspect if the machine is inaccurate, if the area used for testing is opaque (such as interference from nail polish on a fingernail). You can try alternate sites (such are the earlobe) if your particular oximeter allows for that.
Anemia and carbon monoxide can also affect pulse oximeter readings. Your provider may want to put you on a Medifast-type program to reduce the weight that is causing the respiratory problem. However, that isn't something you can do on your own. Your provider can test your meter to make sure it is giving accurate results, and run other tests to see if there is some other problem that is giving such a low reading.
Please let me know if you have questions.
All the best,