Pulse oximeters are becoming increasingly popular for home use, as people buy them to monitor if someone in the family becomes seriously ill with Covid-19.
Pulse Oximeter is a devices which measures the percentage of oxygen saturation in the blood. The Device is usually clipped on to a fingertip or earlobe and have been praised by doctors because they can alert people who don’t realise they’re gravely ill to the fact that their body is struggling for oxygen.
One of the biggest worries with Covid-19 is when someone doesn’t realise their oxygen levels have dropped because they don’t actually feel unwell.
How do pulse oximeters work?
A pulse oximeter works by shining a light through a person’s fingertip (or earlobe) and calculating how much oxygen is in the blood. A normal reading would usually range from 95-100%.
If someone’s blood oxygen levels are 92% or less, you should call 999 or go to A&E.
Why are pulse oximeters useful?
It’s vital that people seek medical assistance for low oxygen levels, as if left unchecked, it could cause further damage to the body.
Who might need a pulse oximeter?
Most people who get Covid have very few complications, meaning they will be able to recover at home without the need for pulse oximeters.
However there are a number of patients who might benefit from such devices. For instance, some people who don’t need immediate hospital attention but are at high risk of developing serious symptoms from Covid-19 have been given pulse oximeters to use at home.
Benefits of Using a Pulse Oximeter
Anyone who’s ever been out of shape knows how badly the body can struggle to maintain oxygen levels when heavy physical demands are suddenly placed on it. By monitoring your fitness progress with a pulse oximetry device, you can push your body to the limit, without pushing yourself to the point of complete exhaustion and/or sickness.
Being able to track changes to your pulse rate without having to do so manually is yet another fitness benefit of using these devices.
High Altitude Sports
A pulse oximeter can alert you to oxygen deprivation issues before they become a serious problem. Sports like mountain climbing, skydiving, hang gliding and any other sport or activity that puts a person in high altitude situations can benefit from the use of a pulse oximeter to determine arterial blood oxygen levels.
For COPD Management
A pulse oximeter should be carried on those who suffer from COPD at all times. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease occurs when the cells in the lungs become damaged to such an extent the body can no longer repair them. This is a serious condition that requires the use of medication, lifestyle management, and the monitoring of blood oxygen levels to determine when the lungs aren’t delivering enough oxygen – alerting the patient when rescue medication and/or oxygen therapy are needed.
For Asthma Patient Care
Though not always as serious as COPD, many asthma patients suffer from debilitating daily asthma attacks that can leave them feeling like they’ll never be able to catch their breath again. For those with severe asthma, a pulse oximeter can alert them when their airways are becoming restricted – before it becomes really serious – alerting them to use their rescue inhaler before an attack occurs.
Piece of Mind for Pulmonary Patients
Aside from those already mentioned, there are several common and many rare pulmonary conditions that affect the lungs, and which can be life threatening. Those suffering from such conditions can definitely benefit from the use of a pulse oximetry device, to alert them of changes to their arterial blood oxygen levels before life threatening complications occur.
Once calibrated, pulse oximeters will work the same after two years as they did on the first day they were opened. All these devices perform a startup check of their circuitry when turned on, and will not run a scan unless they pass these built in tests. No calibration is ever needed, or even possible, with an at home oximetry device.
You really can’t argue with the cost of purchasing a pulse oximeter. Very few on the market cost more than $50 (USD) and the majority come with at least a 2-year warranty. Whether you’re using one for fitness monitoring, or because you have a condition that requires one, few at home health monitoring devices are as inexpensive.
Less Invasive Than Blood Gas Testing
For some people, going to a lab and being poked with a needle is a major source of anxiety. This is particularly true if you have to go for regular blood work and calluses have developed in the preferred extraction sites, making taking your blood not only frightening, but also extremely painful, too.
A pulse oximeter can’t tell what your carbon dioxide levels are, but if you’re not feeling well and your oxygen levels are confirmed as being low by your oximeter, you have all the reasons you need to get to a hospital immediately for treatment.
Accurate Pulse Reading
An obvious benefit. Whether you have a cardiopulmonary problem or just want to know what your pulse is, an oximeter offers far more reliable results than putting two fingers on an artery and trying to count your own heartbeat. This is especially true if you’re not feeling comfortable (anxious, racing heart, overexertion, etc.)
For more information and our Pulse Oximeter Buying Guide