A colourless and odourless gas that makes up about 21% of the earth’s atmosphere. Oxygen is breathed in to burn food for energy. Efficient respiration that oxygenates the body is a basic requirement for health and fitness.
COVID-19 affects the human body by depriving it of oxygen.
Oxygen therapy – in which a patient is provided with supplementary oxygen – is often the first line of treatment for a person who has below-normal oxygen levels.
The blood has red blood cells with haemoglobin. When haemoglobin is carrying oxygen, it is described as ‘saturated with oxygen’. In healthy people, the O2 saturation is about 94% or more. For people with a history of lung disease such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, the percentage falls to a range in the high 80s. Oxygen therapy is given to COVID-19 patients who have saturation levels lower than 92%.
Oxygen saturation is usually measured with a device called a pulse oxymeter or oximeter which can be purchased. It can be clamped to any finger or toe but is generally put onto the middle finger to give an O2 saturation reading.