A fingertip pulse oximeter is an important device that can be used to measure how much oxygen is in the blood. This device is often used by individuals with cardiovascular or respiratory conditions. There are also individuals with certain infections and some young infants who may need their blood oxygen levels checked through a fingertip pulse oximeter.
We will dive in further to what the benefits of fingertip pulse oximeters are, how they work and what you can expect when using one of these devices.
What is a Fingertip Pulse Oximeter Measuring?
These little devices are looking at pulse oximetry. What exactly does that mean? It looks at how much oxygen is in your blood. All of the systems in your body need oxygen to survive and function. Without it, your cells can begin to malfunction and eventually die. This important oxygen is transported to the ordering through the lungs and eventually through your blood vis your red blood cells.
Simply put, your blood needs to have oxygen in it so that it can take that oxygen to other organs in the body. When you measure your pulse oximetry, you are looking at the percentage of oxygen in hemoglobin proteins. This is also known as oxygen saturation. This will tell you how much oxygen is getting to your organs.
How Does the Fingertip Pulse Oximeter Work?
These little devices feature a clip-on style that will measure your oxygen saturation. With these particular readers, the device attaches directly to your finger.
When you use this little device, the reader will give you a number to tell you what your oxygen saturation levels are. Typically, normal and healthy saturation levels are anywhere between 95 and 100%. If you have a reading dictating your oxygen saturation levels are below 90%, then you need to see a doctor right away. This is abnormally low.
Inside that little finger clip, there is actually a small light that shines on one side and a detector on the other. The detector will measure how much light is absorbed by the blood to tell you what your oxygen saturation level is. With this in mind, your small at-home finger reader is only going to give you an estimate of your blood oxygen levels, not the exact amount. However, they are known for being pretty accurate for at-home tests.
Why Might You Experience a Drop in Oxygen Saturation Levels?
So, why do some people experience drops in their oxygen saturation levels? Emergency situations like choking drowning, inhaling poisonous chemicals or suffocating can cause levels to drop. However, there are other conditions that may require consistent blood oxygen monitoring.
- Allergic reactions
- Emphysema or lung infections
- Lung cancer
- Reactions to general anesthesia
- Heart failure
- Sleep apnea
- Heart attacks
- Lung cancer
You will find these pulse oximeters in hospitals and doctor’s offices, but there may be situations where you need to use this device at home to stay on top of your health. Doctors may use these devices not only to treat the aforementioned conditions, but as part of a stress test or to measure cardiovascular or respiratory problems.
Why Would I need to have a Pulse Oximeter At Home?
There are some people who have fingertip pulse oximeters at home as a way to stay on top of certain health conditions. Most commonly, individuals who have conditions what impact oxygen saturation may need to monitor and check their levels regularly. Many times, individuals with severe snoring or sleep apnea will also need to measure their blood oxygen levels while at home.
There are several benefits associated with measuring your pulse oximetry. This includes:
- The ability to monitor oxygen saturation over time
- Staying on top of dangerously low oxygen levels in newborns who may be susceptible to this condition
- Providing updated information and peace of mind to those with chronic respiratory or cardiovascular conditions
- Determining whether or not those with at home oxygen tanks need supplemental oxygen
- To see how well lung mediations are working
- Determining if a person needs a ventilator to help with breathing
Your doctor will tell you if you may be a candidate for using an at-home pulse oximeter.
What Should I Expect While Using a Fingertip Pulse Oximeter?
Measuring your blood oxygen levels with a fingertip device is easy and not painful, it is a noninvasive test and has no serious risk. The device will fit tightly but shouldn’t feel restrictive. If you start to experience tingling, numbness or changes in skin color, you are likely using it too long and should consult your doctor.
If your device loosens during monitoring, which may happen while you are sleeping or tossing and turning, it can give a false alert. If you get an alert, make sure to first check that the monitor is secure and fits properly on your finger.
There are also certain conditions that may impact the effectiveness of these at-home fingertip pulse oximeters. This includes the following situations:
- People with poor circulation
- Individuals with dark skin pigmentation
- Thick skin
- Individuals who are heavy tobacco users
- Cool skin temperature
- Wearing dark fingernail polish or having artificial nails
- Dirty, oily or greasy fingers
These conditions may also contribute to inaccurate or inconsistent results.
The good news is, there are very few risks involved with using a pulse oximeter. However, if you are not using it under the discretion of a doctor, it may give you a false sense of security. Some people may experience slight skin irritation from the adhesive as well.
ITA-MED has fingertip pulse oximeters available for you at home use, so that you can easily and quickly measure how much oxygen is in the blood. This convenient at-home tool is a must-have for anyone who needs to stay on top of their health conditions.