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How do people with lung disease know they need oxygen?

Lyall A. Gorenstein, MD
Thoracic Surgery (Cardiothoracic Vascular)
Your doctor will assess your need for supplemental oxygen using two methods:
  • Arterial Blood Gases (ABGs): This test is considered the "gold
           standard". A sample of arterial blood is taken usually from your
           arm and tested for direct levels of oxygen. A level of 80-100 mm
           Hg is considered the normal range. Patients with chronic
           obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may tolerate lower levels
           of oxygen.
  • Pulse Oximetry: This is a non-invasive test which indirectly measures
           the level of oxygen in the blood. A probe is placed usually on your
           finger (ear, nose, and forehead probes may also be used) to
           measure oxygen levels. Normal levels are 90-100%.
A complete assessment of oxygen requirement should include these measurements both at rest and with exercise or activity.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.