The pulse oximeter has found its way into many medical cabinets as we’ve grown accustomed to self-testing, taking our temperature, and looking for other virus-related symptoms. Without it, we are unable to obtain a precise image of the state of our lungs. A pulse oximeter can be useful in situations when it can be difficult to discern between minor symptoms and those that require immediate medical attention.
According to Sharon Chekijian, MD, MPH, an emergency medicine physician with Yale Medicine, “many doctors have been advising patients, especially those with worrisome symptoms or chronic health conditions like heart or lung problems, to buy a pulse oximeter for home to monitor their oxygen levels without trekking to the doctor or (emergency department).”
Having a pulse oximeter may be useful if you contract COVID-19, even though they are not absolutely necessary for the average healthy person (some doctors recommend them if you have prior breathing problems like asthma, COPD, or other lung disorders). Here’s what you should know if you’re thinking about purchasing one.
A Pulse Oximeter’s Operation ?
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, a pulse oximeter, often known as a “pulse ox,” is a device that gauges the amount of oxygen (also known as oxygen saturation, or O2 sat) in your blood. Since it is externally detected on the finger, toe, or ear, it specifically monitors the peripheral oxygen saturation. According to the World Health Organization, this is crucial because your blood—or more precisely, the proteins in your red blood cells known as hemoglobin—transports oxygen to your tissues, which require it to operate.
According to George Fallieras, MD, medical director of BioCorRx and a physician at LA Surge Hospital, “the device transmits wavelengths of light to a sensor which calculates your blood oxygen saturation.” That wavelength is directed at the haemoglobin, and the amount of light absorbed by blood changes with haemoglobin oxygen saturation. Then, according to the WHO, it delivers a numerical reading.
The pace at which the heart beats per minute are measured by pulse oximeters also indicates how well the body’s tissues are “perfused,” or supplied with blood, and ultimately, how much oxygen the blood carries.
When COVID-19 or COVID-19 pneumonia is present, breathing problems may be detected or monitored with the aid of a pulse oximeter. The device can be especially useful if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are experiencing shortness of breath. You can use it to monitor your progress or decide whether it’s time to visit the emergency room.
How Should a Pulse Oximeter Read?
According to the WHO, a reading of 95% to 100% is considered normal, and anything lower than 94% should be examined by a doctor. Anything less than 90% on a pulse oximeter is regarded as a “clinical emergency” and needs to be attended to right away. Adults typically have heart rates of between 60 and 100 beats per minute.
Dr. Chekijian advised, “Be sure to make a log of the data if you do think you have COVID and you’re using the pulse oximeter to assess your oxygen level so you can see if there are any changes.” Also, you shouldn’t just concentrate on the numbers. She advised keeping a record of your state of mind at the time of the reading, whether you felt fine or were experiencing shortness of breath, for example.