Pulse oximetry is a non-invasive test that determines your blood’s oxygen saturation. Even little variations in oxygen levels can be detected quickly by it. The efficiency with which blood transports oxygen to the extremities farthest from your heart, such as your arms and legs, is indicated by these values.
A pulse oximeter is a tiny clip-on gadget that measures blood oxygen levels. It is most usually attached to a finger.
In critical care environments such as emergency rooms and hospitals, medical practitioners often employ them. They may be used in the office by some clinicians, such as pulmonologists. Even at home, you can use one.
There has been a surge in demand for a pulse oximeter as the number of COVID 19 cases in the country has risen. Pulse oximeters are medical devices that monitor a patient’s blood oxygen levels and can help warn a healthcare provider if oxygen levels fall below safe limits.
Pulse oximeter readings have aided in the prompt intervention of numerous coronavirus cases. These gadgets have proven indispensable in a pandemic situation when a patient’s blood oxygen levels must be monitored on a regular basis. The percentage of oxygen concentration in the patient’s blood is shown by SpO2 oximeters.
A typical amount of oxygen is normally 95 percent or more, according to many sources. Normal levels can be as high as 90% in certain patients with persistent lung illness or sleep apnea. However, if your home SpO2 value is less than 90%, you should contact your health care physician right once.
How to Use Pulse Oximeter Correctly (step by step process)
Step 1: Make sure your finger is free of nail polish or henna.
Step 2: Check that your hands are at room temperature, and if they are, warm them with a film.
Step 3: Before placing on the pulse oximeter, rest and calm your body.
Step 4: Place your index or middle finger on the pulse oximeter.
Step 5: Try decreasing hand movement by placing your hand on your chest near your heart.
Step 6: Continue to hold the pulse oximeter on your finger for at least a minute, or until the reading stabilises.
Step 7: After the oximeter has established itself after 5 seconds, record the highest value that flashes on the screen.
Make sure the probe is not too tight (which would restrict circulation) or too loose (which would cause it to constrict) (may fall off or let other light in).
When assessing your health or oxygen level, don’t rely just on a pulse oximeter. Always seek assistance as soon as possible. Hypoxia progresses quickly and needs immediate medical attention. It’s preferable to ask for aid than to be alone with a failing sick.
Readings from a pulse oximeter
Pulse oximetry tests estimate blood oxygen levels, although they’re usually quite accurate. This is especially true when working with high-quality technology like that found in most medical offices and hospitals. Medical experts can perform accurate testing using this equipment.
Prescription oximeters must have an accuracy range of 4 to 6%, according to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA)Trusted Source.
According to Trusted Source, your blood should contain oxygen in excess of 89 percent of the time. This is the oxygen saturation level that your cells require to be healthy.
It is possible that having an oxygen saturation below this level for a short period of time may cause no harm. However, recurrent or continuous low oxygen saturation levels might be harmful. For most healthy persons, an oxygen saturation level of 95% is considered normal.
Hypoxemia, or a severe lack of oxygen in the blood, can be indicated by a reading of 92 percent or below.
Readings can be influenced by a variety of circumstances, including a person’s skin tone.
The accuracy of pulse oximetry tests and blood gas measures in identifying hypoxemia in Black and white individuals was evaluated in a 2020 report.
Researchers discovered that when blood gas measurements detected occult hypoxemia, there were three times as frequent incidences of pulse oximetry testing failing to detect it in Black patients.
These tests were created without taking into account a wide range of skin tones. More study is needed to understand and correct this racial prejudice, according to the authors.