Friday, October 24, 2014

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 a concerned parent, Community Member, asks

Q: what are normal oxygen levels for my daughter who has asthma.

my 15 year old daughter had a oxygen level of 88 by the end of her doctor's visit, I need to know what the norm is for her., our 1st visit that day it was 92, they got it up to 110, but 20 minutes later, it back down to 92, then she referred that we see the doctor, so she got a wheel chair to wheel my daughter down to thwe doctor, and be seen by him, he did not treat her, he only renewed her medications, we went up to the pharmacy to fill the, and she got worse, I asked the dr. was he going give her any thing, and he said her regular meds would treat her, I was baffled by what he told me, we did not get to fill her prescriptions, she , my daughter told me , mom, I feel worse then I did when we first got here, so I took her back to urgent care, right through the double doors and told them the doctor did not treat my daughter's current symptoms, and we needed help right away, I can't take her home like this, so we went back to the doctors office waiting for him, and in that time she said mom, I CANT BREATH< HELP ME, I went and got the nurse, and she checked her oxygen levels, and they had went down to 88, she yelled for a doctor and some oxygen know! I and my daughter were very scared at was was happening.

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Answers (3)
John Bottrell, Health Pro
10/28/09 11:11pm

I'm going to assume that by "oxygen level" you are referring to a pulse oximetry reading, otherwise known as an SpO2 or a pulse ox or sat (some people incorrectly call it a stat).  You can see a picture of one here.  This is where they take a little gadget and place it over your daughters finger and it checks her oxygen level. 


First let me explain what a pulse ox is. 


What is a pulse ox?  It is a device that allows medical people like me, your nurse or doctor, to determine how much of the oxygen that you breath in is actually getting to your tissues.  Thus, the # 88 means that 88% of the air your daughter was breathing in was getting to her tissues. 


What is a normal pulse ox?  Perfectly normal is 98%, although for most people anything greater than 88-92% is acceptable, although the actual range can fluctuate with some hospitals, doctors, or patients.   


If you have concerns about your daughters pulse ox, you should probably talk to the doctor and ask him why he thinks 88% is okay.  In my opinion, so long as a patient is relatively stable, I wouldn't worry about a sat of 88.  For one thing it's just a number generated by a machine and can fluctuate +/- 2%.  It's best not to treat a number but the patient.


A reading of 88% is worth noting, but is not critical.  Perhaps this is what your dauther's doctor was thinking.  I have seen asthma patients go home with similar readings and they did just fine.  In fact, my daugher had an asthma attack a few years ago and her sat was 84% and she was sent home with me and ended up just fine.


If your daughter continues to have trouble breathing, or her breathing gets worse, call your doctor or return to the emergency room. And it's always a good idea to continue to monitor your daughter for these signs of asthma, which I'm sure you already do.

a concerned parent, Community Member
10/29/09 12:47am

Thank you, that was very helpful for me.The thing that bothered me so much is that you could clearlly see that my daughter was in distree, that's why the urgent care took her down to the doctors office, after 2 breathing treatments in the urgent care coulnd not keep her oxygen levels up, and we have a breathing machine at home and all the meds he refilled, her immediate condition was not treated by that doctor, and this saddens me.

John Bottrell, Health Pro
11/ 7/09 12:23am

I don't know if this was the case with your situation because I wasn't there, but I know from my own personal experience taking care of children in the emergency room that it sometimes is very hard to get an accurate saturation reading.  That's another thing to consider anyway.  My wife took my asthmatic daughter to see the pediatrician a few years ago and her oxygen level was 83%.  However, since I wasn't there I wonder if that was truly accurate.  The doctor sent my daughter home anyway and she was fine after a few days of breathing treatments and antibiotics. 

tjlabey, Community Member
6/12/13 11:45am

The point is: "she was clearly in distress"  and more or less dismissed by everyone except her mother. That's unacceptable. Kudos to the mother for being her daughter's best advocate when she could not get the medical intervention she needed.




ahmed malahi, Community Member
1/ 6/11 2:45pm

more than 90

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By a concerned parent, Community Member— Last Modified: 06/12/13, First Published: 10/28/09