What is a pulse oximeter?
A pulse oximeter is typically a small, portable device that clips onto the finger and provides a reading within seconds. The light shines through the skin and detects blood cells’ colour and movement in a pulse oximeter to determine blood oxygen saturation and heart rate. Deoxygenated blood cells are dark red, while oxygenated blood cells are bright red. The pulse oximeter calculates oxygen saturation as a percentage by comparing the number of bright red cells to dark red cells. A normal pulse oximeter reading is between 95% and 100%, with anything less than 90% considered dangerously low or hypoxic.
Apollo homecare provides a wide range of medical equipment such as pulse oximeter, oxygen cylinders, BiPAP machine, wheelchairs for rent and many more.
How accurate are pulse oximeter devices?
Pulse oximeters use 2 LEDs to generate results, whereas, for accurate results, the pulse oximeter should have 4 LEDs.
The pulse oximeters use two wavelengths (Red light and Infrared Light) to measure oxygen concentration in the blood. These two wavelengths identify only Oxyhemoglobin (Hb02) and Hemoglobin (Hb) and do not consider carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) and methemoglobin (MetHb) which are also present in our blood. Choose from Apollo homecare’s wide range of medical equipment for rent for the best quality and accurate equipment.
The accuracy can decrease if:
- Nail polish on the finger can cause inaccuracy (especially if the nail paint is blue, green, or black)
- More inaccuracy is found in patients with dark skin.
- If a person has a high CO2 level in their blood, the reading will be inaccurate as the oximeter does not consider the absorption spectrum of CO2 in blood.
- If a person has undergone heart bypass surgery, the reading might be inaccurate.
- Too much movement while using the pulse oximeter can give you inaccurate results. It is important to remain still.
- Pulse oximeters might not show accurate results in patients with sickle cell anaemia.
- People with hyperbilirubinemia might not get accurate results.
To increase the accuracy, place the pulse oximeter on the index finger.
When Does When Need a Pulse Oximeter?
- Hypoxemia: It is a risk that happens during surgery when blood oxygen levels fall below the optimal level. During surgery, anaesthesia or other drugs may affect the patient’s breathing and ventilation. A pulse oximeter can help the doctors measure the patient’s oxygen levels.
- Pneumonia: Pneumonia patients have weaker lungs that cannot absorb enough oxygen to deliver to other organs in the body. By measuring oxygen levels in the blood, pulse oximeters can aid in diagnosing severe pneumonia.
- Mountain Climbing or High-Altitude Sports: If you have a breathing condition and are going for a mountain trek or adventure sports like sky diving, it is highly recommended to carry a pulse oximeter to handle increased activity levels.
- Asthma: An asthma attack can be spotted early by a pulse oximeter. During an asthma attack, the blood oxygen levels drop rapidly. Thus, monitoring oxygen levels in all asthmatic patients is very important. Hypoxia is the leading cause of death associated with asthma.
- COPD: In COPD, damage to the lungs and airways reduces the amount of oxygen the lungs can take in. As a result, less oxygen is released from the lungs into the bloodstream. A low oxygen level in the blood is called COPD hypoxemia. A pulse oximeter can help detect oxygen levels to avoid further lung problems.
- Managing Sleep Apnea: In patients with sleep apnea, the upper airway muscles, including the larynx, become narrow and tend to collapse temporarily during sleep. Due to this temporary collapse, oxygen levels drop, which causes breathing to stop, waking the individual from sleep. A pulse oximeter can help check if your breathing stops while you sleep.
Pulse oximeters and other medical equipment for rent are available on many online sites but choosing from a reliable source is essential as it is a matter of your health. Never compromise on choosing quality equipment.