Pulse Oximeters, vitals at our fingertips!



During this outbreak of COVID-19, Oximeters are the only practical way to measure blood-oxygen levels at home and they can provide additional information (pulse rate) for confirmed or suspected COVID patients. At home the readings of an oximeter can give an idea of the person’s blood oxygen levels and their pulse, but one should pay more attention to the symptoms that may indicate an emergency.

This article contains:

  • Introduction to Pulse Oximeters- Technical Definition

  • How does an oximeter work?

  • What does an oximeter indicate and when the health intervention is required?

  • Uses of pulse oximeters

  • How and why Pulse Oximeters is being useful during this COVID-19 situation

  • ZEPNURhealth Pulse Oximeters Directory

What is a pulse oximeter?


A pulse oximeter is a simple, compact, portable, low-cost, and non-invasive device that is used to monitor the amount of oxygen carried in the body.


The need for a regular check on oxygen levels is required if you have certain conditions such as Asthma, Anaemia, Pneumonia, Lung cancer, Cardiovascular diseases, Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).



During this outbreak of COVID-19, Oximeters are the only practical way to measure blood-oxygen levels at home and they can provide additional information (pulse rate) for confirmed or suspected COVID patients. At home, the readings of an oximeter can give an idea of the person’s blood oxygen levels and their pulse, but one should pay more attention to the symptoms that may indicate an emergency.


Principle


Oximeters work by the principles of Spectrophotometry ( it is a method that is used to measure how much light is absorbed by a chemical substance by means of measuring the intensity of light as a beam of light passes through a sample solution ).



How does an oximeter work?

  • A Pulse oximeter is clipped to the tip of your finger ( earlobes and forehead are sometimes used as alternatives ). It uses a sensor device that consists of two light sources red (absorbed by deoxygenated blood) and infrared (absorbed by oxygenated blood) and a photodetector to measure the absorption of visible light.

  • Oxygenated and De-oxygenated hemoglobin have different light absorption rates.

  • The sensors of the pulse oximeter detect the level of blood oxygen saturation or SpO2. depending on the light passed through it. The device then displays the percentage of oxygen on the screen of the pulse oximeter.

Image: Working of a Pulse Oximeter

The normal range of blood oxygen saturation or SpO2 for a healthy person is 95% - 100%. When this blood oxygen saturation or SpO2 level drops under 90% it can affect the amount of oxygen going to your brain and other vital organs. People may experience confusion and lethargy at low levels of oxygen. The levels below 80% are as dangerous as the risk of organ damage increases. Oximeters have an accuracy of +2% and it also displays the pulse rate in beats per minute.

Image: Pulse Oximeter and it parts


Uses of Pulse Oximeters:


The reasons that support the use of pulse oximeters are:

  • Continuous monitoring - of oxygen levels of patients who have undergone surgery.

  • Individual pulse oximeter readings - Determining or estimating whether the patient needs help breathing and Assessing the effectiveness of supplemental oxygen therapy

  • Evaluating medications - the effectiveness of new medications.

  • Neonatal care - the safety limits for oxygen saturations are higher and narrower (95-97%) in neonates compared to those for adults.

  • Intrapartum fetal monitoring - use of fetal pulse oximetry in combination with routine cardiotocography (CTG) monitoring, although its use does not reduce the operative delivery rate.


Image: Neonatal Pulse Oximeter


Sources of Errors and Methods of Improving an Oximeter Signal



How and why Pulse Oximeters is being useful during this COVID-19 situation?


Various states in India Pulse Oximeters are made mandatory.

  • New Delhi - The Delhi government will provide pulse oximeters to all home quarantine cases.

  • Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) - has made pulse oximeters mandatory for COVID cases in home isolation.

  • Karnataka - Health and Welfare Department director has issued instructions to all fever clinics in the state to procure pulse oximeters to determine oxygen saturation levels of patients reporting breathlessness.

  • Gurugram( ‎Haryana ) - The health department has decided to distribute pulse oximeters to COVID patients recovering at home.


COVID-19 is a respiratory tract infection that the entire world is being exposed to. Though many people can deal with the disease on their own without hospitalization, about 5% of them develop “Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome” (ARDS) and other complications including sepsis, multi-organ failure including cardiac, septic shock and kidney injury. People with such conditions will require critical care and should be treated with supplemental oxygen.


People with COVID-19 develop pneumonia. Pneumonia symptoms include fever, crackly breath sounds, high pulse rate, and lower oxygen levels. This condition can further progress to severe pneumonia with SpO2 <93% and respiration rates > 30 breaths per minute. This group of patients should ultimately be treated in hospital. If this condition progresses to ARDS( Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome ), the patient will be treated in an ICU.


It is unlikely that normal healthy people will need a pulse oximeter even if they get COVID-19, but individuals with compromised immune systems and those with pre-existing conditions like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) who are already on supplemental oxygen will definitely benefit from a Fingertip Pulse Oximeter.


Oxygen levels in the body depend on many factors like the amount of oxygen in the air we breathe and the ability of that oxygen to make it cross the air sacs in the lungs into the bloodstream. With COVID-19 patients, the virus can damage the air sacs by filling them up with fluids blocking the pathway of the oxygen flow. People with low oxygen levels appear very uncomfortable and sometimes even to a point where they appear to be gasping for air. This happens when the windpipe is blocked or if there is excessive carbon dioxide buildup in the blood triggering the body’s response to breathing faster.


Many Doctors in emergency rooms are noticing COVID patients with dangerously low levels of oxygen but are completely comfortable, this condition is called “sleep hypoxia”. With COVID patients the blood triggering body’s response may not be working, so the blood flow continues to the areas with damaged lungs, where oxygen cannot make it across to the bloodstream causing a drop in oxygen levels.


Therefore the benefit of having a Pulse Oximeter at home for people who have been diagnosed for COVID-19 or symptoms of the infection which helps us to know when to reach out to the doctor for help.


ZEPNURhealth Pulse Oximeters Directory:


For more details on different pulse oximeters, or to get expert guidance on how to choose the right pulse oximeter, get in touch with us on 1800-102-8348/ info@zepnurhealth.com.

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