The pulse oximeter has been a life-saving tool in this pandemic and a relatively new one for many people. In this article, I have tried to possibly solve all the queries that arise amongst COVID-19 patients or suspects who have been advised by the doctor to monitor their oxygen saturation. Here are the answers to some of the common queries about this life-saving instrument:-
Q1: WHAT IS A PULSE OXIMETER?
A pulse oximeter is a small lightweight device, which is being used to monitor the amount of oxygen in the body.
Q2: WHAT ALL INFORMATION DOES PULSE OXIMETER tell?
Most pulse oximeters tell the oxygen saturation (SpO2) in the arterial blood and pulse rate (PR) of our body.
Q3: WHY IS PULSE OXIMETER NEEDED BY A COVID-19 patient?
It is important for COVID-19 patients as covid infection may lead to a decrease in oxygen saturation (content) in our body often termed as "happy hypoxia" i.e. decrease in the oxygen concentration in the body without the patient even releasing it. This hypoxia can prove disastrous for the patient and can even turn into an emergency.
Q4: WHAT IS THE NORMAL RANGE AND WHEN SHOULD THE PATIENT BE ALARMED?
A: The normal range of oxygen saturation is between (95% to 100%) and the pulse is between (60-100) bpm for an adult. If the oxygen saturation persistently drops less than 94%, consultation with the doctor should be sought immediately. Less than 90% of oxygen saturation is a medical emergency.
Q5: HOW OFTEN SHOULD A COVID-19 PATIENT CHECK HIS OXYGEN SATURATION?
A COVID-19 positive patient should monitor his oxygen saturation (SpO2) every four (4) hours and properly document both oxygen saturation and temperature by thermometer for any medical reference.
Q6: HOW TO MAKE SURE IF THE INSTRUMENT IS WORKING PROPERLY?
If you suspect the instrument is faulty check for the batteries and instrument manual of the device. Make sure to buy a standard pulse oximeter available in the market.
Q7: WHAT IS THE CORRECT METHOD OF CHECKING IT?
Make sure that you are seated properly with a clean dry finger and there is no nail paint or nail polish or any injury to the finger. Avoid checking under direct sunlight. Any finger or toe can be used to check oxygen saturation. Ideally middle and index fingers are used.