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Oxygen Saturation at altitude
After a week at 9000 ft. elk camp I stumbled into the oxygen saturation data being collected from my fitbit. My numbers were averaging in the low 90's for the nights I was there. At home (2100') they are high 90's. I know its not a very scientific device but I wondered if others had tracked this or had any thoughts about it?
I'm heading back for another week and plan to work harder at staying hydrated and doing a few other things to try and offset the lack of oxygen.
I'll be interested to follow this....
sleeping in the low 90s is no issue while your body adjusts. I also wonder how supplements like Boost oxygen canisters really do help this. I bought one just as a trial and I can say without a doubt that after I took a couple second hit of it, I could immediately feel the difference. Maybe a hit at bedtime and when you wake during the night would help?
I was in the hospital at Flagstaff for some surgery and if your O2 level got below 90 they would give you oxygen, Flagstaff is at 7000 ft. Would not worry if you are above 90 while sleeping.
I’d also use your Fitbit to monitor your max heart rate while out hunting. I’d make sure to stay below your max heart range. It will help keep you from taxing out your body too much.
Aspen Ghost's Link
We talked about it while over 12k hunting deer earlier in the month. Would have been fun to chart but our Garmins don't track that. We were guessing high 80's most likely.
According to this article it's normal: "A pulse oximeter reading at sea level is normally at 100%. In Denver, peripheral capillary oxygen saturation is usually around 95-96%. Up in Summit, oxygen saturation is around 92%. Visitors coming to Summit from sea level might see their oxygen saturation drop to around 88% or lower before reaching levels typical at this elevation."
I was elk hunting in Wyoming beginning of the month at elevation between 8500'-9500'. The pulse ox on my Garmin was consistently between 92-94%. At home here at 1700' elevation it is pretty consistently 95-96%. Pretty consistent with what you saw on your fitbit.
I dont trust Fitbits/garmin/etc on these sorts of measurements, it's just not as accurate as even a basic 35 dollar finger sensor you could go buy at your local RiteAid right now. Is it horrible? NO. But not a medical device for sure.
Having said that, in working with folks using altitude based training camps or portable "altitude simulation" tents, I can tell you that while low O2 is normal as you adapt - including overnight - it's also an interesting adaptive signal. Meaning that if you are there long enough that you really start handling the altitude well, you will see that number creep up towards the higher 90s where it wants to be.
Overall, not a big deal.
If you have a medical condition, especially a cardiac condition or related condition, I'd ask your doc if they would suggest any thing when you go to altitude to stay safe.
Very interesting thread! I will be following this..................
More data for the thread- Sitting in my living room at 9750 feet my POx is 92-93% with resting pulse of 48-52. Recent bloodwork showed red blood cell counts higher than the normal range @ 6.16 vs normal of 4.33-5.82 million/uL. My hemoglobin numbers are at the top of the range @ 17.7 vs normal of 13.7-17.7 g/dL. All this being said my blood pressure has be known to be elevated which seems counter to low pulse rate and good blood work. Your mileage may vary. Sandbrew
Sandbrew, your home being at 9700’ should cause your body to build additional red blood cells which houses Hemoglobin. Hemoglobin actually does the work at altitude to carry O2 and CO2.
Your RBC count of 6.1 is the top of normal just getting into Elevated range. Do you have your hemoglobin count. The healthy range for hemoglobin is: 13.2 to 16.6 grams per deciliter for men.
You’re acclimated for your elevation and that is why people are told to show up a few days early to allow hemoglobin to build in the blood. Hemoglobin thickens the blood so more water is needed to help offset issues caused by thicker blood than your body is used too. It’s harder to pump. And causes clots easier. Probably why your BP is higher but other symptoms are normal.
i live at 4100 feet and recently purchased a blood oxygen monitor. i will be hunting next month at 8-10K feet in elevation. this thread piqued my interest and i am somewhat concerned about my performance and getting sick.
i am older, in better than average shape, and plan to spend a day or two at higher elevation next month and arrive a day early to the hunt area to acclimate.
Back in the Day...the old-timer you were with would say "Why you breathing so hard? There's no oxygen up here anyway"
Then you elk hunted. Too many gadgets these days!
Now, get off my lawn, lol !!
Recently grew a clot in my left leg 2 weeks before the start of my archery elk hunt. Everyone kept telling me I'm not going because it's not safe. Clot ran the length of upper groin to back of my knee. Had surgery 4 days ago. And today my left leg is looking close to size of my right leg. Now I have 2 days left of my hunt. I want to go hunting but doc said, "there is a great chance the altitude will cause a PE (Pulmonary Embolism)". That and my nurse wife said no...
re Will - "I dont trust Fitbits/garmin/etc on these sorts of measurements, it's just not as accurate as even a basic 35 dollar finger sensor you could go buy at your local RiteAid right now. Is it horrible? NO. But not a medical device for sure. "
You could 'calibrate' your Fitbit against one of those (at home) and see if the Fb consistently reads high, low or 'pretty close', or not.
I doubt a fitbit is accurate enough to rely on but may keep you in the ball park. As a side note: several years ago, before covid, I got very sick, and went to Urgent care, and was showing O2 at 81. My son got me an oxyboost can, and within a short time I was testing in 90's again. It made a big difference. I would not hesitate to use when going to higher elevation situations.
Anytime I go at or above 10,000 feet I take Diamox as prescribed, it really helps you acclimate faster FYI. I live at under 1,000 feet.
Elkmtngear, I hear ya. I had to google wth is even being talked about lol
Years ago, I knew an avid hunting cardiologist that was going on a high altitude hunt ....possibly Argali or Marco Polo. He wrote a prescription for himself for epogen..... just so he had more red blood cells to carry more O2. I often wondered how/if that worked well for him.
I survived week two at 9500'. Oxygen saturation levels were similar to the previous week despite increased hydration. I took along our pulse oximeter from home and it pretty much verified what others have said and what my fitbit thinks. Most of the time it was running 91%. I checked it a few times as I traveled from 2100' to 9500' and it just walked its way down as I climbed. Interestingly my hunting partner that lives in Laramie didn't have any better sats than I did. Its been a good learning process for me and I am scratching it off of things to worry about when I hunt at altitude. Thanks to everyone who chimed in. Back to anxiety about swirling winds!!
If you have swirling winds, how does the animal know witch way your coming from? And witch way to leave?
Ill drop below 90 sometimes week 3 or 4 at 10k feet
Low 90s is zero concern in CO, especially at elevation. Mid 90s is pretty much all I see at 6000 on patients
I’ve often wondered how an O2 concentrater would help? It sure would be nice to hike at high altitude with the same vigor you do at 2,000’
Mountain Climbers use O2 bottles at higher altitudes so they probably would work really well at 9,000 feet if you want to deal with the weight and bulk.
The portable O2 concentrators make noise and add 5 pounds and bulk to carry but I'm not sure how well they concentrate O2 at higher elevation? Edit to add: The Inogen one says it meets specs for O2 concentration up to 10,000 feet.
Specs for others are at: https://www.oxygenconcentratorstore.com/blog/reviews-on-portable-oxygen-concentrators-at-high-altitudes/
Funny thread, at 65, I just went from sea-level to 13,500, and killed a desert ram after 10 days. No o2, just dealt with it.
If you need o2, you never trained for your hunt.
If you need o2, you never trained for your hunt"
Not true whatsoever. Every single human body responds quite differently. Training certainly helps, but isn't a fix all. I train well and at 8k I need a couple days to adjust. Even when I was much younger. Some people can do elevation without issue, while others struggle. It is physiological.
"If you need o2, you never trained for your hunt. "
LOL, How did your parents know so early what to name you?
One of the guides that had been up in the white mountains guiding sheep hunters for three decades almost died on one trip. Never had issues and then out of nowhere it happened
“There are two main types of severe altitude sickness: high altitude pulmonary oedema (fluid within the lungs) and high altitude cerebral oedema (fluid within the brain). In most cases, both conditions occur at the same time. A person with pulmonary oedema may drown if their lungs fill with too much fluid.“ Fortunately their was a fireman and EMT there one had a asthma inhaler that helped. He headed down the mountain on a trail in the dark and passed out falling off the trail. Fortunately the fellas coming down latter found him or he would have died there. If anyone was immune to that happening to them it would have been him because he had been there so often. To think if I prepare it’ll never happen is ludicrous. Preparation for what if it happens is the best preparation.
Diamox for me the last three times at elevation. Will be using it again next month. I acclimate so much faster and sleep better.
“One of the guides that had been up in the white mountains guiding sheep hunters for three decades almost died on one trip. Never had issues and then out of nowhere it happened”
This is the sad truth. Our physiology changes. You can have zero issues 250 times in a row then 251 it hits. The main thing to remember is the only real treatment is to descend.
Things like carrying O2 can get you into trouble if you don’t know what your doing.
Total agreement with DL comment