What You Should Know About Excess Oxygen within Blood

Oxygen is essential for cells to exist; without oxygen, there will be brain damage within three minutes. So in the treatments of traumas such as stroke or heart attack, patients are provided with oxygen to avoid brain damage. However, resuscitating the patient with excess amounts of oxygen will have a net negative effect. It will cause hyperoxemia, a condition that there is an incredibly high amount of oxygen in the blood. Read on to learn more about the situation.

What Are the Effects of Too Much Oxygen in Blood?

Patients who are susceptible to hyperoxemia include astronauts, scuba divers, and people undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy. When they inhale too much of oxygen, symptoms such as nausea, tunnel vision, and inflammation of the airways may occur.

According to the level of exposure to excess oxygen, there are different forms of hyperoxemia. CNS or central nervous system damage mostly occurs when there are high pressure and short duration of excess oxygen in blood. It can lead to twitching, dizziness, nausea, seizures and in severe cases death. On the other hand, pulmonary or ocular problems may occur if there is a long-term exposure to oxygen at normal atmospheric pressure. The symptoms include inflammation of the lungs, difficulty in breathing, coughing and fever.

How to Avoid Too Much Oxygen in Blood While Diving

To avoid excess oxygen in blood, astronauts should undergo proper training to curb this problem. These people need to learn how to utilize oxygen spacesuits under different atmospheric pressures. For patients undergoing hyperbaric oxygen treatment, they should be regularly monitored for excess or elevated levels of oxygen. Here is mainly about how to avoid inhaling excess oxygen while diving.

  • Stay within depth limits: Recreational divers can dive to a depth of 130 feet. Any additional depth may require enriched air nitro or other mixed gas. They must learn to calculate the depth limits.
  • Maintain buoyancy control and awareness: Proper buoyancy allows the divers to regulate their depth and the oxygen content in their tanks. 
  • Take air breaks: Take air breaks to reduce the risk of oxygen toxicity if you are exposed to excess oxygen for long periods.
  • Track your total oxygen exposure: If you dive deeper than 130 feet, utilize diving computer, oxygen clock, and oxygen toxicity units to calculate and track the amount of oxygen that you are exposed to.
  • Keep your carbon dioxide levels low: Strenuous exercise and poorly maintained regulators can increase the levels of carbon dioxide in the system. This condition can make you inhale too much oxygen.
  • Avoid oxygen exciters: Medications such as decongestants that contain component pseudoephedrine HCI can accelerate oxygen toxicity. In case of scuba diving, check with the doctor all the medications you are using.

How to Check Blood Oxygen

In order to avoid too much oxygen in blood, you may want to learn the methods to check blood oxygen.

1.   Pulse Oximeter

  • Oxygen in the blood can be checked by using a pulse oximeter. Attach a pulse oximeter at the end of the finger. A light will shine through the fingertip. The device then utilizes the light to determine the level of oxygen in the blood. Hemoglobin in blood is usually dark red or purple when it is lowly oxygenated and bright red when it is highly oxygenated.
  • Taking the readings on the oximeter. The normal range of blood oxygen is 95-100%.

2.   Arterial Blood Gas Test

  • Schedule an appointment with your physician for the arterial blood gas test. This test requires the doctor to withdraw blood and test the blood sample in the laboratory. The blood is usually taken from an artery and not a vein.
  • It is advised that you notify your doctor if you are using oxygen therapy.
  • Wait for the result of the arterial blood gas test. The lab technician can analyze if there is too much oxygen in blood in less than fifteen minutes.