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How does my doctor determine how much oxygen I need?

In order to decide whether to prescribe supplemental oxygen therapy for a breathing problem, your doctor will order tests to measure the oxygen levels in your blood, or oxygen saturation. Oximetry and arterial blood gas tests are the two ways to test oxygen saturation. Oximetry is a painless procedure where a clip is attached to your finger, toe, earlobe or foot (in the case of infants) to measure blood oxygen levels. The arterial blood gas test requires that blood be drawn from an artery in your wrist and sent to a lab for analysis of oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. Using these results, your doctor may prescribe a specific amount of oxygen (called a flow rate) to increase your oxygen saturation and treat your uncomfortable symptoms.

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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.