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What do Pulse Oximeters Measure?

Pulse Oximeters are designed to monitor and measure an individual's SpO2, Pulse Rate, and Perfusion Index. Measuring and tracking this personal health data enables a user to assess and make informed decisions when it matters most.  

Pulse oximeters measure the percentage of oxygen in red blood cells. This is also known as oxygen saturation. Oxygen saturation or Sp02 is used as an indicator for measuring how effectively oxygen is being transferred throughout the human body.    

What is Pulse Oximetry?  

Pulse oximetry uses a clip-on or wrap-around sensor with a pulse oximeter to pass infrared light through the blood in the finger, toe, and earlobe. The device is displayed as SpO2 (oxygen saturation). The infrared light can calculate differences in light absorption. See How to Interpret Pulse Oximeter Readings. 

What are Normal Readings on a Pulse Oximeter?  

Typically, an oxygen saturation level of 95 – 100 is considered normal for most healthy individuals. Oxygen saturation below this range can strain the heart and brain for an extended period. This can result in long-term health consequences and should be immediately addressed with your physician.  

 Those with heart or respiratory conditions may have lower oxygen saturation than what would typically be considered normal. It is essential to remember that pulse oximeters are only meant to measure and monitor health. They are not intended for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Always consult your physician first.  

Benefits of Pulse Oximeters  

Pulse Oximeters are helpful for:  

  • Monitoring oxygen saturation over time 
  • Easing anxiety with people suffering from chronic respiratory or cardiovascular conditions  
  • Determining the effectiveness of breathing interventions, such as oxygen therapy and ventilators.  
  • Examining any side effects of prescribed drugs that affect breathing 
  • Monitoring the oxygen levels of newborns 
  • Detecting the presence of hypoxemia  

If you experience shortness of breath or have a diagnosed lung or heart condition, talk to your doctor, and evaluate if a pulse oximeter is for you.  

Who Can Benefit from Using a Pulse Oximeter? 

  • Medical Professionals 
  • Those with Chronic Respiratory Conditions (COPD, Asthma, etc.)  
  • Athletes   
  • Musicians   
  • Those living at high altitudes   
  • Emergency Medical Personnel  
  • Those with sleep disorders  
  • Infants (see more here.)  

Pulse Oximeters are essential to monitoring users with acute respiratory problems (NCBI). If you’re still unsure if the investment is for you, see a more detailed list of benefits here.  

How Accurate are Pulse Oximeters? 

Most Pulse Oximeter readings are accurate within 2% to 4% of the blood oxygen saturation level (Yale Medicine). However, several factors impact accuracies, such as movement, temperature, and nail polish. It’s also essential to invest in FDA-Cleared Pulse Oximeters and not invest in anything otherwise. 

To take an accurate reading:  

  • Follow the instructions  
  • Make sure your finger is warm, relaxed, and held below your heart when you place the oximeter on  
  • Remove fingernail polish  
  • Be still  
  • Wait until the reading stops changing and displays a number 
  • Keep track of your oxygen levels with dates, times, readings, etc. and report them to your doctor 

The rate of undiscovered hypoxic events has significantly decreased as we monitor oxygen saturation with Pulse Oximeters (NCBI).   

Interested in purchasing a Pulse Oximeter? View our collection of easy-to-use, clinical-grade monitoring devices here. 

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