What Are the 2 Readings on a Pulse Oximeter?
The two main numbers on a pulse oximeter are the oxygen saturation and your pulse rate. These readings use infrared light to measure the amount of oxygen in your blood – what doctors call your ‘blood oxygen saturation levels’.
Blood oxygen readings are displayed in a percentage of SpO2 (peripheral oxygen saturation) and heart rates are displayed simply as BPM (beats per minute). According to the British Lung Foundation, your blood oxygen level should be around 95% to 100%. A healthy heart rate is 50 to 90 BPM.
With the accurate readings of your heart rate and how you are breathing, your finger pulse oximeter results can give you an insight into the following:
- How well you are breathing
- Whether you have any respiratory or cardiac issues, notably the lung disease chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD)
- If you have a sleep disorder or other disruption in your breathing
- Detecting silent hypoxia, a COVID-19 complication that causes low blood oxygen – but not shortness of breath
Pulse oximeters provide a highly-accurate reading. We provide some of the best mobility equipment in the UK so can offer some guidance on these devices, as well as explain a bit more about how to use a pulse oximeter.
You will see our wonderful, life-changing products in action and can try out a wide range of different types of mobility equipment at our showroom. Please feel free to get in touch with us if you have any questions about a specific product.
How to Read a Pulse Oximeter and How to Use Oximeter Readings
The golden rule is to buy a quality finger pulse oximeter. You should never compromise on your fingertip oximeter or any other piece of medical equipment, as you want a reliable product. We recommend the HbO-Smart, Finger Pulse Oximeter, which you will see is of very high quality once you order it online.
You can use your index finger, the pointing finger, or your middle finger. Luckily, most fingertip oximeter devices are simple to use in the following steps:
- Wash your hands: For the most precise readings make sure that you wash your hands before use – this is particularly important for shared oximeters.
- Clip to your fingertip: The device will open similarly to a clothes peg, simply attach this to your finger – but remove varnish or false nails first.
- Hold your hand to the chest for 5 minutes: This will allow the circulation in the blood to be more precise, as blood can often pool in the extremities.
- Turn on the oximeter: A simple button will activate the device, which will then display the readings – it should only take a few seconds to show up.
The above tips explain how to read oximeters properly. As your pulse oximeter measures so accurately you will get a precise view of your heart rate in beats per minute and how well the blood is carrying oxygen. You can note this down for your records, which can track your progression of any illness.
With the advent of COVID-19, there are some signs to be aware of that may mean you require further assistance after reading. These include the following:
- An oxygen level reading that stays at 92% or lower
- You are coughing up blood, despite what your readings say
- You also have a cold sweat and pale, blotchy skin
- You are fainting or have dizziness
- You have a persistent skin rash that does not fade
- You are experiencing restlessness, confusion or irritation
If in doubt, seek medical attention – so that your red blood cell oxygen level is medically reviewed in a health care setting. Depending on your readings, doctors may make additional pulse oximeter reports and other detailed blood gas tests.
Pulse Oximetry Explained
It can be helpful for medical reasons and peace of mind to take your readings multiple times a day, especially if you have existing respiratory or cardiac problems. As a pulse oximeter measures your pulse and oxygen levels it is a vital tool for early detection of any worsening of issues you might be living with.
Fingertip oximeters are a simple, non-invasive and affordable device, so they are an essential tool for many older adults and people living with disabilities. You can buy our outstanding HbO-Smart, Finger Pulse oximeter online or get in touch with us if you have any further questions.