After oxygen containers, oxygen concentrators, and ventilators the most demanding medical device is the pulse oximeter. As the deadly second wave of Covid-19 is upon us it is must for everyone to take care of ourselves and our loved ones!
A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the blood flow rate of the body or the saturation level of the blood. It is very efficient in detecting the efficiency of the blood flow from the heart to every part of the body including legs, fingers, and every extremity of the body.
The design and shape of this device are similar to the small staplers that kids use during school days.
As we push the paper inside staple, in the same way, push your one finger, toe, or earlobe inside this device. As soon as you attach it to your finger the device detects the blood flow and it displays it on the digital screen on the device.
The pulse oximeters device is used by doctors, patients, fitness enthusiasts, and anyone like you and me. It is advisable to keep the pulse oximeter handy if you have any patients at your home. At critical times like the covid-19 pandemic, it is a must to keep with you as you keep your smartphone.
What is Pulse Oximetry?
Pulse oximetry is a painless and invasive test. Doctors perform it to check the oxygen saturation level of the body. It is the easiest and painless test.
With the help of a device pulse oximeter, experts test the amount of oxygen being sent to the farther parts of the body like lower parts and especially legs.
What is the need for pulse oximetry?
Pulse oximetry is the inexpensive, easy, and most efficient test for measuring blood flow. So, doctors prefer pulse oximetry test in the following conditions:
- To check the oxygen saturation level of the patient before, during, or after the surgery.
- To check the oxygen saturation level of the pregnant lady during her pregnancy days,
- To check whether lung medicines are working efficiently.
- To check oxygen level of the body after intense body workout.
- To check if patients need intense care i.e. provision of ventilators, oxygen concentrators
Pulse oximetry test does help in minor conditions. Apart from that, it does play important role in treating major ailments such as:
- Heart Attacks
- Kidney Failure
- Breathing Issues
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
The use of pulse oximetry is not limited. Doctors and experts find pulse oximetry tests very useful for detecting a patient’s health. That is why your healthcare provider might have any other reason for performing a pulse oximetry test.
Working of pulse oximeter
While undergoing a pulse oximetry test you need to put your finger, earlobe, or your toe inside the pulse oximeter device. As soon as you put it inside the device small beams of infrared light signals pass through the blood of the finger. The device send the signals to measure the oxygen saturation level of the body.
The key process is the absorption of light by blood. Yes, the more oxygenated blood, the more is the absorption of the light and vice-versa. So, the variation in the absorption of light by blood is detected by the machine. The machine reads the detected data and interprets it to on the digital screen. The data is human-readable so a human can read it.
This is how a pulse oximeter helps you to find out the blood saturation level of the body in a few seconds.
Best oximeters in India 2021
Pulse oximeters are accurate most of the time unless of any technical issue.
It is advisable to record reading 2% more or less than the actual reading on the device. For instance, if the indicator indicates 90% then the actual pulse rate can be anything between 88%-92%. The reason for the same is variation in temperature, movement of the body or device, or any unexpected factor.
Reasons for the inaccuracy of pulse oximeter:
Wrong attachment of finger and device
It is very important to know how to use the pulse oximeter device for accurate results. If you put it in the wrong way there are high chances that you get incorrect results.
Choice of finger
Choice of finger also determines the accuracy of the pulse oximeter. According to experts, the middle or index finger of a working hand/dominant hand is ideal for accurate results. The reason for the same is that the middle finger has a radial blood artery supply.
The major effect of smoking is an increase in carbon dioxide content in the body. It is preferable to test after 20-25 hours of smoking. So, cigarette smoking is not advisable before pulse oximeter testing.
Intake of drugs alters the amount of Haemoglobin and methemoglobin in the human body. It directly affects the pulse oximeter readings. Drugs of any kind can affect readings so this test might be ineffective.
Nail-polish, long nails, or colored fingers
As I said earlier, there can be any unexpected reason like above for the failure of the test. Make sure that hands, especially fingers and nails are well cleaned and finely cut before doing a pulse oximetry test.
If you are planning to buy new pulse oximeter here are the suggestions by ValueMantra:
Role of the pulse oximeter during a covid-19 pandemic
The entire world is entwined in the covid-19 pandemic and the cause of this pandemic is a negligible virus. Yes, negligible is so powerful that it damages the entire respiratory system of the victim and damages the blood carrying system of the blood.
The outburst of the corona pandemic has been challenging medical systems across the world for one and half years. The number of infected people is more than the available ventilators. In critical times like this pulse oximeter has changed the entire game.
Managing every patient in the hospital is not possible so with the help of the pulse oximeter it has become possible to check oxygen levels at homes or primary clinics. In a time when the national economy is in danger, pulse oximeter has saved funds by performing oxygen saturation tests at the lowest possible cost.
Usage of pulse oximeter during covid-19
- To monitor the oxygen level of quarantined or hospitalized.
- To check oxygen level without touching infected one i.e. it contributed a lot for maintaining social distancing
- Detection of oxygen level at home without visiting any hospital.
Pros, cons, and challenges of pulse oximeter during a covid-19 pandemic:
Instant, painless, inexpensive, and invasive test is the major advantage of the pulse oximeter. It does not need expertise or special knowledge, or analysis to detect blood saturation level using it.
Yet, according to the expert opinion one must remember that it is not completely reliable as a sole monitor. It is not advisable to use a pulse oximeter in serious situations such as cardiovascular failure, respiratory system failure, or failure of oxygen supply.
The use of an oximeter is not advisable to a normal person it can bring anxiety. During the corona pandemic, the oximeter has played a very crucial role. However, its authenticity, accuracy, and reliability are the major concerns. In emergency or high-risk situations visiting the hospital is ideal, a pulse oximeter can’t help you in such times. You can use it for monitoring but to detect exact results you must visit experts or hospitals.
- The pulse oximeter has changed the game during the corona pandemic.
- A pulse oximeter is the most inexpensive and painless test for detecting blood saturation.
- A pulse oximeter is mostly accurate except in some unexpected situations.
- A pulse oximeter is not recommended for severe ailments such as heart attacks, respiratory failures, etc.
Stay home! Stay fit! Stay safe!
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