A pulse oximeter can check how much oxygen is carried by your blood. There are fingertip pulse oximeters that can be put on the end of your finger, toe or earlobe to check this. There is a light beam emitted by the device. What it actually measures is the percentage of blood that is carrying oxygen. The reading for your oxygen saturation will then be displayed on the screen.
Many hospitals, clinics and health centres use pulse oximeters. With the rise of Covid19, many people started buying pulse oximeters as it helped them take care of Covid19 positive family members. Many doctors also recommended using pulse oximeters to monitor your condition. But you have to choose a device that comes with high accuracy so that you know when to take action. In addition to Covid19 positive patients, pulse oximeters are used to help patients with long term lung or heart issues. Your family doctor can help you choose an accurate device. There are many symptoms that occur such as shortness of breath and tiredness when your blood oxygen levels are low. But there are some people who may not show these signs due to certain health problems. It is recommended to check blood oxygen several times a day so that you can catch the times when you are not displaying symptoms.
Once you have selected a pulse oximeter, you need to put in the right batteries and turn it on. There are fingertip pulse oximeters that combine the monitor and sensor which are mostly commonly used. There is also a pulse oximeter that has the monitor and sensor separately but with a cable connection. This is a larger device and can be a little cumbersome for home use. However, it tends to have higher accuracy therefore, is mostly used in hospitals. When you are using a fingertip pulse oximeter at home, you have to keep the nail facing up when you clip it onto the finger. The results will take a few seconds to be displayed. There are generally two results that are provided by the pulse oximeter. One is your blood oxygen level which is indicated by SpO2 and the other is your pulse rate which will be shown as PR. You can check with your family doctor about the normal ranges so that you know when to call for help.
There are times that you can get an incorrect or no result. This usually happens if you have cold hands or if you are wearing artificial nails. Sometimes, nail polish can pose a problem. You need to warm your hand up before clipping the device onto the finger. You can also try with different fingers. You will be advised by your doctor to check your blood oxygen levels several times in the day such as when you are exercising or when you are feeling poorly. It is best to keep a record of these readings as it can be helpful to your doctor. If your blood oxygen level drops below 95%, then you will need to call your doctor. There are some health problems where you will anyway have a normal blood oxygen level that is low. This is why it is so important to check with your doctor about your normal levels before using the device.