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What Oxygen Level Is Too Low For A Child: Unique Information!

What Oxygen Level Is Too Low For A Child: Unique Information!

Oxygen is the name of a gas, which has no color taste, shape, or odor. Still, it is very important for living organisms such as human beings, animals, and even plants. What oxygen level is too low for a child? If the level of oxygen saturation is lower than 88% then it is too low for a child.

In this blog, we will discuss the importance of oxygen, what oxygen level is too low for a child, the symptoms of low oxygen saturation, and the causes of low oxygen saturation.

The Importance of Oxygen

Is there anything more important than air? The answer is a big NO! Air contains the most important gas named oxygen which is so vital for living beings. Living beings cannot survive without oxygen for long. With the help of Oxygen living beings live, grow, reproduce and turn food into energy.

The Brain Needs A Lot of Oxygen

The brain is the most important part of the body. And needs 20% of oxygen out of total body consumption. The brain is the head office of the body and its cells always remain in working order. The brain cells have to send messages and orders to the rest of the body. So, it needs a clear amount of energy for cellular respiration. Children need it in extra quantity because their brain development is more rapid than adults.

The brain consumes 0.1 calories every minute. But when you are involved in some difficult task and you are thinking hard it consumes 1.5 calories per minute. To fulfill this need the brain needs so much oxygen. If you cannot find oxygen just for five minutes, the brain cells start to die. And it causes severe brain damage which can result in death as well.

Body Immune System Needs Oxygen

The body’s immune system is a safety system against various diseases. It fights with different viruses and bacteria. Oxygen works like a fuel for this system and gives the energy to protect our health. A low level of oxygen makes the body’s immune system weaker, which is quite dangerous and allows various diseases to attack your body easily.

Low Level Of Oxygen Can Draw Serious Consequences

  • A low level of oxygen can spoil the digestive system and the body will not get proper energy.
  • The human body can develop Hypoxemia due to a lower level of oxygen. And if it is not treated in time, then it can damage different organs of the body. Ultimately, it can cause death.
  • The lower level of oxygen can cause confusion, a fast heart rate, and rapid breathing.
  • Shortness of breath, sweating, and the color of skin can be changed.
  • The lungs can catch so many diseases due to lower levels of oxygen, such as inflammation in the lungs, lung infection, etc.

What oxygen level is too low for a child?

The level of oxygen saturation can vary depending upon the children’s underlying health. Still, it is a frequently asked question what is a normal oxygen level for a baby? As we have already discussed that a normal level of oxygen is so crucial for the human body. And the children need more oxygen for healthy growth.

Children grow and develop at a very fast speed. Therefore, they need more oxygen than adults. The body of children needs almost 95%-100% oxygen to survive better. It is considered a normal level of oxygen for the children.

What oxygen level is too low for a child? If the level of oxygen is lower than 95% then it is not good for the body of a child. A lower level of oxygen than 95% is viewed as abnormal for both children and adults. As it can lead to drastic endings.

what oxygen level is too low for a child, lower than 88%
Child showing breathing difficulty.

If the level of oxygen saturation is between 95% and 88% the child can survive with extra effort. This level is considered a safe and average level for the human body. But once the level goes down to 88% it would be very dangerous. Below 88% of oxygen level is too low for a child.

88% of oxygen level can go down at any time and the child needs to be hospitalized. Because this level is so dangerous for the important parts of the body, such as the brain, lungs, and heart. It must need to treat as quickly as possible. Therefore, according to child specialists 87% oxygen level is too low for a child.

The Symptoms Of Low Oxygen Saturation

The body’s oxygen level indicates that there is a normal distribution of oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. An optimal level of oxygen assures the health of a child. Most of the oxygen is carried by the red blood cells, which they collect from the lungs and deliver to all parts of the body for healthy growth and functioning.

A low level of oxygen in the body can cause the following symptoms:


Coughing is a very normal reflex to clear the throat. But sometimes your child coughs a lot and it causes difficulty in breathing. Then it can be due to a lower level of oxygen in the body. Every cell of the body demands oxygen from the lungs and when the lungs cannot find it, he starts to cough excessively.

Fast Heart Rate

A Fast heart rate is not always a reason to worry. Sometimes heart rate increases due to exercise, fear, or stress. Still, if you notice that your child’s heartbeat is more than 100 times per minute along with cough then you should see the doctor. As it can be due to a lower level of oxygen. And a lower level of oxygen can damage the brain within a few minutes.

Rapid and Shortness Of Breath

If you notice that, your child is unable to breathe properly then you must see your doctor. A lower level of oxygen can cause either fast and rapid breathing or shortness of breath. If the shortness of breath is not treated in time then your child would get faint. So, he needs a quick supply of oxygen, which can be available in the hospitals.

If there is some delay to take your child to the hospital, then open the windows. You can take him to an open place or near to the plants. Because plants are also a quick source to provide oxygen instantly.

Sweating and Wheezing

We have already discussed what oxygen level is too low for a baby. Still, if you see your child is sweating and wheezing a lot then quickly check the level of oxygen in his body. If there is no weather condition such as heat yet your child is sweating it can be alarming. Sometimes the lower level of oxygen can cause sweating and wheezing.

Some Other Symptoms

Above I have mentioned a few symptoms which can depict that there is a lower level of oxygen in the body. Still, there are some other symptoms at which you need to be alert if you find them in your child. These symptoms are excessive headache, changes in the color of skin, especially if it changes from blue to red.

The blue color of skin, nails, and lips can also be a symptom of the lower level of body oxygen. If your child experiences confusion and disorientation without any clear reason then it can be due to lower body oxygen.

The Causes Of Low Oxygen Saturation

There can be numerous reasons for the low level of oxygen saturation. You need to be extra careful about your child, during sleep regarding his bedding, stuffed toys, blanket, etc. If the bed of your child is full it can also cause low oxygen saturation. Sometimes low oxygen saturation depends upon the health condition of the child. Yet we are going to discuss some of the main underlying causes behind low oxygen saturation.

  1. Pneumonia can be the reason which can cause a low level of oxygen. Pneumonia is an infection that can be caused by different microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites.
  2. A severe asthma attack is another reason for the low oxygen level of the body. Loss of appetite, dark circles under the eyes, fatigue, difficulty in sleeping, and headache are the prominent symptoms of asthma.
  3. Sometimes lungs get damaged due to trauma or stress which can cause low oxygen saturation.
  4. Pulmonary edema is a disease in which water or fluid gets collected in the lungs which becomes the cause of low oxygen levels.
  5. Obesity and being at high altitude are also the causes of low level of oxygen.
  6. Pulmonary fibrosis which become the cause of scarred and damaged lungs, it become the reason of low oxygen level.
  7. Cardiovascular diseases which are directly related to the heart can cause low oxygen level in the body.
  8. Sleep apnea, Cyanide poisoning, Certain pain medications and other drugs that can depress breathing, such as narcotics and anesthetics can cause low oxygen saturation.

Treatment for Low Oxygen Saturation

Once you come to know that what oxygen level is too low for a child you should check it on and off. You can diagnose it with a physical examination. you can visit the doctor he will listen to the heartbeat. He will examine lungs if he notices that skin, lips, or fingernails are of a bluish color. Moreover, he can ask for Pulse oximetry, Arterial blood gas (ABG), and Pulmonary (lung) function tests.

what oxygen level is too low for a child; below 88%.
Treatment equipment for the low levels of body oxygen.

Low oxygen saturation is a medical emergency and the only solution is to hospitalize the child and administer the following treatments.

  • Oxygen supply via nasal cannula or mask that covers the nose and mouth.
  • Inhaler can be used to ease the patient.
  • Doctor can suggest asthma medication.
  • steroids and antibiotics can be used if the reason is infection and inflamation behind low oxygen saturation.
  • In severe conditions oxygen in a hyperbaric chamber or mechanical ventilation can be used.


Although oxygen has no color taste, shape, or odor, it is very important for living organisms. It is very important to know about what oxygen level is too low for a child. If the level of oxygen saturation is lower than 95% then it is abnormal but when it comes down from 88% then it is too low for a child.

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About The Author

Qurratulain Nabeel

This is QURRATULAIN - an M.Phil in Applied Psychology. Being a mother of two I tried to put my knowledge into practice, which proved very beneficial for me. By using the platform of I am so pleased to share my experience with people all around the world.

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