How to Use a Pulse Oximeter at Home?

How to Use a Pulse Oximeter at Home?

Are you supposed to keep track of your oxygen saturation? This practice has become relatively common during the pandemic in individuals who are fighting COVID-19 or recovering from it.

Pulse oximetry is a non-invasive method of measuring oxygen saturation, which shouldn’t be below 95%. The procedure is performed with a pulse oximeter, a small device attached to the fingers, earlobes, or toes of users. There are numerous pulse oximeter functions such as oxygen level, pulse rate, and respiration rate.

Make sure to learn how to use a pulse oximeter at home.

Understand pulse oximetry

Prior to using such a device, every individual is supposed to understand the connection between oxygen and blood. The oxygen enters the blood after it becomes absorbed by the lungs so as to attach to hemoglobin. The role of this protein, found in the red blood cells, is to deliver oxygen to all the tissues and organs in the body for them to receive the required nutrients.

Pulse oximetry is of the utmost importance in measuring oxygen saturation in the blood. This type of measurement is generally used in medical procedures and surgeries involving sedation like bronchoscopy. It helps doctors determine whether they need to make any adjustments to the levels of oxygen.

Moreover, pulse oximetry is helpful in determining whether lung medications provide the necessary results. It’s recommended to everyone suffering from sleep apnea, congestive heart failure, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia, etc. Everyone who needs ventilator support when breathing should have their saturation levels monitored.

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How does an oximeter work?

Oximeters are functional devices owing to the ability of hemoglobin to absorb light, as well as the pulsating feeling when the blood runs through the arteries. The device contains a microprocessor, light source, and light detector designed to determine whether hemoglobin is poor or rich in oxygen. Click here to learn more about the symptoms of low hemoglobin levels.

oximeter work

The light source is found on one side of the device, whereas the light detector is located on the other. The source emits infrared and red light traveling through the tissue to the detector. Oxygen-rich hemoglobin tends to absorb more infrared light, whereas oxygen-poor hemoglobin absorbs more red light. The role of the microprocessor is to make the necessary calculations and determine oxygen saturation levels.

It’s important for the oximeter you choose to fit your needs. These devices are available in the form of portable handheld models and fingertip models. The majority of individuals opt for the fingertip model, which looks like a clip and gets attached to the finger. Naturally, it should be sized appropriately for the measurement process to provide accurate results. Also, the oximeter has to be charged before using it.

Even though the risks of the procedure are almost non-existent, you should be aware of them before you start using such a device. By using the oximeter for a prolonged period, users might experience a breakdown of the tissue where the probe was attached, usually the finger. Additionally, skin irritation might occur in some individuals if the probe contains adhesive.

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How to use it?

Before using a pulse oximeter, women are advised to remove any nail polish from their fingernails. Nail polish is believed to absorb light, which leads to false readings. Also, it’s essential to get your hands warm before attaching the probe to the finger. Cold hands indicate low blood flow that results in a reading error. The following link,, explains how to warm up cold hands and feet.

Individuals are supposed to remove any light source from the room, such as ambient, phototherapy, or overhead lights. These have the potential to blind the sensor and provide inaccurate results. Also, make sure to wash your hands to eliminate microorganism transmission.

After taking these measures of precaution, it’s time to attach the probe to the finger. Put your hand on the chest and make no movements. Inaccurate results are usually caused by making unnecessary movements. The display screen will show the saturation levels and pulse rate. Your oxygen levels should be between 95 % and 100%.

Final word

These devices are a must for everyone whose saturation levels are low!

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