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Frequency of desaturating

Hi All,

I was wondering if everyone desaturates when they are walking around even with oxygen? I’m talking about the 25 or so steps from my bedroom to the kitchen. This happens to me everyday. On some days worse than others depending upon weather and other factors.

Are we all moving around and desaturating? I tried walking very slow like a cat trying to sneak up on its prey and I still go below 85. I’m on 4L. I thought I desaturated when I was walking a normal pace instead of slowly but I guess it just doesn’t seem to make a difference. Just wondering if this is other people’s experience particularly those in stage 4. My last FEV1 was 26%.

  1. I'm on 3L of 02, and my normal resting level is 96 or so with it on. On a good day I can walk around with no 02 a little and do some kitchen work too. With it on I might drop to 90 on a trip to the kitchen. But on a bad day it will drop to 85 and below with a pulse of 120 plus on the same trip. Yes, my heart rate recovers more slowly than the 02. I am at appr. 20 lung-wise.

    1. is it normal for my o2 level to recover faster than my heart rate? or should i get my heart tested again?

      1. Hi nana53, and thanks for your post. While we cannot provide medical advice or diagnostics over the internet (for your own safety), your concern certainly warrants a reply. In the most general of terms, tachycardia (an increased heart rate), is the body's first response to hypoxia (low oxygen levels in the blood). Again, in general, an oxygen saturation level may return to normal before the heart rate stabilizes however, this can vary considerably from patient to patient. You may want to discuss your very valid concern further with your physician. The doctor will be able to guide you for your particular symptoms and your specific condition.
        What do you think?
        Leon (site moderator

    2. I think that's part of the copd issue. I can go from the front of the house to the back (about 40 feet), and back, but then I have to sit down. I recover to 90 in about two minutes. That is without oxygen. I can walk for 8 minutes on the treadmill with oxygen. I am stage 4 as well.

      1. Great question! I think you'll find this is not an uncommon issue. For many people with COPD, even a small amount of exercise/movement will cause them to desaturate. I would certainly recommend mentioning it to your doctor next time you see them.

        How long does the drop in saturation last? For some, it goes down but then once your body acclimates to the exertion, it goes back up. It may not go back up to exactly where it usually is, but it'll rise to a more "normal" level.

        The other question I would ask is - How do you feel when this happens? Your doctor will want to know if you become increasingly short of breath, cough, have a headache, or develop any other symptoms.

        Lyn (COPD site moderator)

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