What Are the Causes of Decreased Saturation of Oxygen?

The body needs oxygen to function properly and stay alive. Oxygen is delivered to the tissues and organs in the body by the circulatory system or blood. Oxygen saturation levels refer to how much oxygen the red blood cells in the body are carrying. Certain conditions lead to low oxygen saturation levels.


The red blood cells transport oxygen to organs in the body. Anemia occurs when the amount of red blood cells in the body is low. A person with anemia will have low oxygen saturation levels because there is not enough red blood cells to bind to and transport oxygen around the body.

Toxic Gases

Causes of Low Blood Oxygen Levels

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Carbon monoxide is a gas that is found in car exhaust smoke. This gas binds to red blood cells by knocking oxygen off the cells. When a person inhales carbon monoxide, his or her oxygen saturation decreases because the oxygen content of the red blood cells are lowered.

Low Blood Volume

Hypovolemia or low blood volume can be caused by excessive bleeding or severe dehydration. This can lead to a reduction of the red blood cells in the body and low oxygen saturation levels.


Pantoprazole Side Effects

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Certain medications like anesthetics cause respiratory depression. In this case, a person does not breathe as deeply as he should. This in turn causes low oxygen saturation because the person is not breathing in enough oxygen for the red blood cells to bind to.

Neuromuscular Diseases

Diseases that cause paralysis like myasthenia gravis or Guillain-Barre syndrome can cause low oxygen saturation levels. This happens when the muscles required for breathing can no longer contract and expand to permit adequate intake of oxygen for the red blood cells to bind to.