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Confused about doctor's order regarding 02 saturation

  • By anniewi

    I use an oximeter frequently, but have very cold hands, and often don’t get a correct reading. I recently had a PFT test, and walk test. My levels drop down to 90 with the walk test, and even below that at times. My doctor said that if my oxygen drops to below 88, and does not come back within 15 minutes I should stop walking. He also said to stop if I’m not able to speak a logical sentence. For some reason that sounds strange. I do use oxygen at night. Any comments?

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  • By Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT Moderator

    Hi anniewi and thanks for your post. It sounds like your physician is doing all the correct diagnostic evaluations. A pulmonary function test and the walk test. Was there any suggestion to use the oxygen more frequently than just ‘at night’? Leon (site moderator)

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    • By anniewi

      Thanks for responding Leon. No daytime oxygen was recommended. I had 2/3’s of my RLL removed almost two years ago, but the PFT tests only indicated drops of 2% in FEV1, and DLCO over the last 8 years. Another staple line was needed for that surgery because of pulmonary adhesions from a past accident, and the nodule being in scar tissue. My poor lungs!!

      It does scare me when my oximeter is bouncing all over the place. It seems to drop lower in the evening. I have cold hands so maybe some of the readings are not accurate. Thanks for letting me vent.

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    • By Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT Moderator

      Hi again, anniewi, and thanks for both your replies and explanation. I can certainly understand how you feel, as it can be disconcerting to see one’s saturation moving all about. Since you mentioned the saturation comes back up to 90 or more rather quickly, I would ask how are you feeling when the saturation number is lower? Do you feel the same? Better? Worse? Are you short of breath? Do you seem to have more discomfort? Sometimes, all it takes is exactly what you said – a few deep breaths and the numbers return to normal for you. That is why it’s so important for you to be cognizant of how you are feeling when the number goes down somewhat.
      Although I didn’t always agree, I had an elderly physician friend who used to tell me he stopped looking at the numbers, and was more concerned with how a patient (or he) felt! It provides a slightly different perspective. We appreciate your input here, annie! Warm regards, Leon (site moderator)

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    • By anniewi

      Hi Leon, I wanted to respond to your questions. Sorry it’s a little late, but I’m not the swiftest about managing passwords, and logging in on a regular basis.

      I don’t feel much different when saturation drops below 88. I feel about the same, and rarely feel short of breath. Things are different if I have an exacerbation going on, and it would be hard to hear air moving around if a doctor listened to my chest. In that case I respond to short doses of prednisone. I wouldn’t attempt to push walking at all until I feel better.

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  • By anniewi

    Sorry, I was also told to put oxygen on if my saturation does not come up over 88 within 15 minutes. I have portable oxygen I use on airline flights that is available. The saturation always comes back up to 90 or more within a minute with breathing deeply.

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  • By Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT Moderator

    Hi again, anniewi, and thanks for your responses and explanations. No need to apologize – whenever you can sign on here to interact, at your convenience, works for us.

    Since, practically, you say you feel pretty much the same regardless of where your saturation is (but no lower than 88%) AND, the saturation returns to above 90% within 15 minutes, there doesn’t seem to any cause for alarm. Of course, that is predicated on your physician having the same opinion!!

    Of course, the advice for you to make certain to use the oxygen when your saturation is low (88% or lower) and doesn’t return to normal within 15 minutes, is sound advice. It sounds like we are all of the same opinion.

    It’s good to hear from you Annie – I hope you are doing well. Warm regards, Leon (site moderator)

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