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Pulse Oximeter

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 18/08/2022

The COVID-19 pandemic added several new terms to our vocabulary, right from quarantine to blood saturation and even increased our knowledge about certain medical devices such as the pulse oximeter. However, simply knowing that a device like this exists is not enough. One ought to have proper knowledge for accurate operations.

So, let us understand what the SpO2 pulse oximeter means, what its uses are, and how you can use one. But before we delve into the details of this device, it is also important to understand how in the post-pandemic world, the emergence of the new normal expects certain changes from us. Whether it concerns hygiene, regular exercise to improve lung health, eating nutrient-rich foods, or investing in health insurance, all these elements must be done in unison to ensure complete protection in an unpredictable world.

What is Pulse Oximetry?

Pulse oximetry is a test that intends to measure the oxygen saturation level in your blood. It is a non-invasive test which means that there is no need to cut the skin to take the readings and so the procedure is a simple and painless one. The test measures the level of oxygen that is circulating in your blood which is an important metric to understand whether your body has been running efficiently.

The oxygen saturation in your blood is tightly regulated by your body, as low blood oxygen levels may lead to serious damage to organs such as your heart and brain. Low levels of oxygen in the blood are an indication that either your lungs or your circulatory system may not be working efficiently. Therefore, for the test, the device, i.e, the pulse oximeter, is clipped to the parts of your body that are furthest from your heart, like the legs or the arms.

What is a Pulse Oximeter?

The SpO2 pulse oximeter is a medical device that measures the level of oxygen in your blood as a percentage of the maximum that it can carry. For a healthy individual, the pulse oximeter's normal range should ideally be between 96% to 99%.

Essentially, the blood oximeter is a small device that is clipped to your body part – most commonly your finger. The probe then uses the light in the device to measure the level of oxygen that is circulated in the blood. If the readings of the blood oximeter reveal that the patient’s oxygen saturation is below the pulse oximeter's normal range, the healthcare provider may recommend oxygen therapy to the patient to bring their oxygen level back to normal.

The pulse oximeter uses are diverse, and it is used by healthcare professionals in various settings. The device is used in hospitals in critical care settings, pulmonologists can also make use of the pulse oximeter in office settings, and with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the device was also widely used in homes to monitor the patient's oxygen levels and determine whether they require medical attention.

Pulse Oximeter Uses and Purpose

The primary purpose of the pulse oximeter is to determine how well an individual’s blood is oxygenated. Doctors and medical professionals most commonly use the pulse oximeter to examine the health of patients with conditions that have an impact on their blood saturation levels, particularly when they are admitted to the hospital. Some of these illnesses include:

  • COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a group of diseases that make it difficult for the patient to breathe as they block the airflow. The two main forms of COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

  • The pulse oximeter readings help determine the severity of asthma to treat the patient accordingly.

  • The pulse oximetry test is also used for the diagnosis of pneumonia in the early stages so that effective treatment is provided prior to the emergence of any serious health concern

  • Lung cancer is responsible for decreasing the red blood cells that transport oxygen from the lungs to the heart and the rest of the body and so low levels of oxygen in the blood might be an important indicator for doctors to understand the severity of the patient’s illness

  • In patients suffering from anaemia, the extraction of oxygen increases and the delivery of oxygen decreases and so the pulse oximeter readings can be used to determine the severity

  • Through pulse oximetry measuring the baseline oxygen saturation is helpful in determining the diagnosis and severity of conditions such as a heart attack and heart failure

  • For patients suffering from COVID-19, the pulse oximeter is an important device that they can use even at home to monitor their health and determine whether medical intervention may be required

Aside from the illnesses, doctors use the pulse oximeter to analyse how well the patient’s body may be accepting medication, whether a patient may require oxygen therapy to normalise their oxygen saturation levels, how much aerobic exercise can be tolerated, for analysis of blood oxygen levels during surgical procedures, etc.

Pulse Oximetry at Home

As the pulse oximeter is a simple, portable, and convenient medical device, doctors might recommend some patients purchase a pulse oximeter so they can note their readings and seek help if their condition deteriorates. Moreover, because the pulse oximeter price is reasonable (ranging anywhere between ₹2,000 to ₹4,000), individuals often agree to purchase it without hesitation. However, in addition to knowing the pulse oximeter price, it is also important to know how to use the device:

  • When taking the pulse oximetry test, makes sure you are not wearing any nail polish or jewellery

  • Ensure that your hand is relaxed, warm, and below the heart level

  • Clip the device to your finger, toe, or ear lobe

  • The device will then show you the level of oxygen and will also measure your pulse

  • Once you note the reading, remove the device

The Importance of Medical Insurance

In these unpredictable times, it is imperative to take care of your health and fortify your healthcare needs with a medical insurance plan. A comprehensive health insurance plan from Tata AIG can efficiently take care of your financial needs in times of distress.

Additionally, the benefits of health insurance can be strengthened with riders that offer an added layer of protection. The medical insurance plan comes with an option for several riders, such as a critical illness cover, pre-, and post-hospitalisation cover, ambulance cover, etc.

To Conclude

While the pulse oximeter is a helpful medical device, it is always recommended to share your readings with a medical professional and not self-diagnose. This is especially because several factors may affect oxygen saturation levels, and only a doctor will be able to recommend the right treatment with appropriate consideration of your health condition and subsequent readings.

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