What is Pulse Oximeter?
In the recent times of COVID-19, you must have come across the term pulse oximeter or pulse oximetry frequently. And the patients of lung diseases like COPD and asthma must be using it already!
Pulse oximeter is a small clip-like medical device. It is a painless, noninvasive device and this is a major plus point, in comparison to other complicated procedures, which makes it an easy-to-use device.
How to use a Pulse Oximeter?
It is used by attaching to body parts like finger, toe or earlobe. It has to be kept attached until the readings appear on the screen, after which it can be removed. It has no side effects as such.
It can measure heart rate and blood oxygen level, within few seconds, by sending beams of light and measuring difference in light absorption. It shows the blood SpO2 level and current heart rate on the screen .
Heart or Pulse rate is roughly, the number of times your heart beats in one minute. Largely, heart rate within the range of 60-100 beats per minute (bpm), is considered normal. A lower heart rate indicates better cardiovascular fitness. Various medical conditions can affect the heart rate and cause it to rise (tachycardia) or drop (bradycardia) abnormally. Keeping track of one’s heart rate can help keep track of these conditions.
Blood SpO2 Level
The blood performs an important function of carrying oxygen to all the tissues in body. The oxygen saturation of blood is determined by SpO2 level of blood. Using pulse oximeter, one can keep an eye on abnormal lowering of oxygen levels in blood, and can monitor their health condition in lung diseases like Asthma, COPD and also other conditions like anemia and heart diseases.
There is no specific value of SpO2 which is considered normal, but a level above 95% is satisfactory. A level of 92% or less can be, not necessarily, indicative of lower oxygen saturation, hypoxia and some health abnormality.
Pulse Oximeter in COVID-19
The virus of the ongoing pandemic, covid-19, has been identified to enter through and attack the respiratory system (lungs) directly and cause injury by causing inflammation and pneumonia like illness.
These manifestations can lower the efficiency of blood to carry oxygen, at any level of the disease, and not only when the patient gets critical. In fact, there may be cases in which the patient might not be feeling too unwell but might actually be really sick. In these conditions, keeping an eye on the blood oxygen levels might help in preventing sudden worsening of condition of patient.
These kind of patients might have lower oxygen levels and no other major symptoms. It won’t be wrong to say that pulse oximeter might help in detecting covid early. But it is important to keep in mind that there might be cases where patients might be critically ill and yet have a normal oxygen level, so pulse oximeter should not be used for confirmatory testing.
Pulse oximeter can be helpful for the people who have been tested positive for covid, for monitoring the disease progression and prognosis, if they’re being treated at home. Although there is no clear-cut universal level of normal SpO2, but a consistent drop below 90-92% can be a sign of condition getting critical.
Best Pulse Oximeter in the Market
It is evident that pulse oximeter, as a monitoring device, has turned out to be quite helpful and handy in this pandemic. And thus, almost everyone is looking for a good oximeter to buy.
The 5 best pulse oximeters in market at the moment are:
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A medical student from Chirayu Medical College and Hospital, Bhopal. On constant lookout to share knowledge and provide answers related to the field of medicine.