A pulse oximeter refers to a hand-held device that is used to measure oxygen levels in the blood. For the purpose, it is clipped on to the person’s toe, finger, or earlobe. It helps determine the ease and speed by which oxygen is being circulated from the lungs and heart to the farthest parts of the body. It thus helps discover whether the hearts and lungs are functioning aptly. Warning signs of chronic heart or lung conditions can easily be gauged with the help of pulse oximeters. It also helps determine whether a person needs to seek medical attention when affected by COVID-19.
Purpose and Uses:
The main reason for using a pulse oxygen meter is to check how well your heart is pumping oxygen throughout the body. It is used as a monitoring device in patients with any condition affecting blood oxygen levels, especially when in hospital. These conditions can be asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, pneumonia, congenital heart defects, anemia, heart attack, or heart failure. Common uses of pulse oximetry include:
- Assessment of efficiency of a new lung medication
- Evaluation of a person’s breathing capacity
- Evaluation of how helpful a ventilator is for a person
- Monitoring of oxygen levels during or after surgeries that required sedation
- Determination of the effectiveness of supplemental oxygen therapy, especially during a new treatment
- Assessment of someone’s physical activity tolerance ability
- Evaluation of whether someone stops breathing while sleeping
How does a pulse oximeter work?
A pulse oximeter works by sending multiple small lights through the blood in the body part the oximeter had been attached to such as the earlobe, finger, or toe. The device measures the amount of oxygen in the blood by measuring the light absorption patterns in both oxygenated and deoxygenated blood. By using a pulse oximeter, you will be able to know the person’s oxygen saturation levels, PI%, and heart rate within seconds. World Health Organization recommends the following steps for the most apt readings when using a pulse oximeter:
Position the probe correct: Based on the device being used, this can be either on the toe, finger, or earlobe. Ensure that it fits well and doesn’t appear forced. For instance, if the big toe doesn’t accommodate the oximeter properly, try it on the second toe. Too tight or too loose a probe can affect the reading by allowing in more light.
Make sure to be still and remove any nail paint: The reading will be impacted and will be much lower than it actually is when the person being tested is shaking or shivering. The reading might also be affected by nail paint, henna dye, or finger tattoos. Conducting the test on cold toes or fingers may also result in false readings. In either of the case, it’s advisable to choose some other finger.
You must seek the advice of a medical expert if your reading is less than 95.
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