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Ask Dr. D. Love Your Own Question
Dr. D. Love
Dr. D. Love, Doctor
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 18443
Experience:  Family Physician for 10 years; Hospital Medical Director for 10 years.
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I have low sats in my blood. It is around 88% and 89% on

Customer Question

Hi. I have low sats in my blood. It is around 88% and 89% on resting. It seems they have been low for some time. I had a procedure for an umbilical hernia a couple of years ago and they had difficulty getting my sats up to 95%. I had a checkup with my GP a couple of months ago due to my breathlessness. He took my sats and decided it wasn't working but it didn't matter. I was sent for x rays and an Echocardiogram scan, which showed ok. My heart may be a little large but it could be the angle. I saw my GP again last week as my breathlessness is worse. I have to rest after every 10 yards and simple tasks make me out of breath. He took my sats and tried on four different fingers. I asked if my sats were low and he said "yes". I replied "They are always low". He gave me Ventolin for the time being and referred me for a lung capacity test. The next day, I had a preoperative assessment the next day as I have a shoulder operation scheduled for the 11th August. I am seriously overweight. This is due to not being able to exercise. I broke my neck at c6/c7 in 2000 and c2/c3 in 2004. I have myleopathy which lately has caused other issues. I.e. Charcot feet and diabetic feet. I have had toes amputated. I am 5ft 4ins and 18.5 stone. I was 5ft 7ins. I have started to exercise a bit on a recumbent exercise bike. I hadn't thought low sats were anything to worry about. Are they? Sorry this is long. Regards Lorraine
Submitted: 12 months ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 12 months ago.

Hello from JustAnswer.

Although a normal sat is in the mid to upper 90s, people can usually tolerate a sat down to about 90%, so sats that are 88-89% are slightly below the level that is usually tolerated without difficulty. Some people can tolerate a slightly low sat in the upper 80s, but since you are having worsening breathlessness, that would indicate that you are not tolerating it very well. So, since you are also having worsening breathlessness, the low sats are worrisome and there should be further evaluation to determine the cause.

Being overweight can contribute to lung dysfunction by limiting the ability of the chest to expand. It is also very common for chronic low sats to be due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and the Ventolin may be able to help obstructive disease.. Tests of lung function, such as the lung capacity test, are the usual tests that can clarify the nature of any lung problem that is present. And it would usually be better that the evaluation be completed before elective surgery.

If I can provide any clarification, please let me know.

Dr. D. Love and 3 other Medical Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Thank you Dr Love.Could my spinal cord injury to my neck have anything to do with it? I read that it can result by affecting the nerves that affect breathing.I also forgot to mention that Im not sure if I have sleep apnoea. A few times I had nightmares that I couldn't breathe and it woke me and I couldn't breathe. I also ten to jerk awake and suck in through my mouth with a snoring sound. One night I had to prop myself up with 4 pillows to breathe.RegardsLorraine
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Apologies for the typos and grammatical errors.
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 12 months ago.

Yes, it is possible that any condition that affects the nerves to the respiratory muscles can impair the ability to move air in and out of the lungs and result in low sats, and this would also be assessed by the tests of lung function.

Sleep apnea will cause low sats while asleep in virtually every patient, but to affect the sat levels during the day, it is typically because of an effect of the sleep apnea on the blood pressure in the lungs and/or on heart function, and the echocardiogram is the test that would be first done to identify such changes. Since the echocardiogram showed OK, it would be appropriate to look at other causes of low sats.

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Thank you Dr LoveYou have been very helpful.RegardsLorraine
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 12 months ago.

You are very welcome.

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Hi Dr LoveSorry to trouble you again but I also forgot to mention to my GP how tired I am. I can get out of bed, have breakfast and feel so sleepy I want to go back to bed. I can fall asleep anywhere. Anytime I sit down, even on the loo. I also feel woozy. Could this also be a symptom?RegardsLorraine
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 12 months ago.

Yes, it is common for tiredness to be present when the oxygen sats are low.

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Thank you againI don't have any further questions.RegardsLorraine
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Dear Dr LoveI apologise. I do have a couple of other questions. I keep forgetting to ask my GP. I'm sorry but I worry because of things that happened to some friends of mine. I worry about waiting so long for tests.Anyway, I forgot to mention to my GP that I have had phlegm in my throat for the past three months that I'm unable to shift and a slight cough.My legs also swell quite badly throughout the day.Could these all be connected?I don't want to be a hypochondriac.RegardsLorraine
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 12 months ago.

These symptoms would not be due to the low sats, but they could be due to the condition that is causing the low sats, but will only be known as the evaluation is done.

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Dear Dr LoveSorry to trouble you again, but should I contact my GP to tell him about the phlegm? It is quite troublesome. I am due to have surgery on the 11th August and I'm concerned they won't carry it out while I have these breathing issues.I took my SATS on returning home after visiting a friend and I was very out of breath. My sats went as low as 83 but settled at 87.I only bought the sats tester yesterday and it is highly recommended as being as accurate as the ones used by GPS. It did match up for me yesterday.I think I'll have to send you a tip.RegardsLorraine
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 12 months ago.

The key next step is the lung test, so there is no need to separately inform your doctor of the phlegm.

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Thank you once again.
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 12 months ago.

You are welcome.

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