3 Tips for Using a Pulse Oximeter at Home

3 Tips for Using a Pulse Oximeter at Home

Jan 7th 2022

Pulse oximetry is a non-invasive testing method that measures the amount of oxygen present in an individual’s bloodstream. The results collected from this light-beaming device reveal if one’s heart and lungs adequately supply the level of oxygen required to meet the body’s needs. Low oxygen saturation can impact the body’s ability to function properly.

Generally, healthcare providers and physicians use these clip-on medical devices for quick readings in hospitals or clinical settings. Pulse oximeters can come in handy at home for those with conditions or symptoms that impact their oxygen levels. Let’s take a closer look at how to work this device in home settings. Here are three tips for using a pulse oximeter at home.

Understand What Happens During Pulse Oximetry

Checking your blood oxygen levels correctly at home requires a quick understanding of the ins and outs of pulse oximetry. Finger pulse oximeters are small electronic devices with LEDs placed inside. Once you clip the device to your middle or index finger, the probe on one side emits a light that shines through the tissues of your fingertip.

The sensor on the other side of your fingertip reads the amount of light traveling through it. The device can then estimate how much oxygen is currently in the blood vessels under your skin. The oxygen saturation level—which is the estimated percentage of the red blood cells carrying oxygen—is displayed on the screen.

Follow Guidelines To Avoid Inaccurate Readings

Remember that pulse oximeter readings are an estimate—and they may not be fully accurate each time. The reason for inaccuracy could be a wide number of factors, such as cold hands, wet skin, dirt or dust on the sensor, movement, nail polish, etc. Consider varying attributes that could affect the reading. Skin color, conditions causing poor blood circulation, and bruises or tattoos on the fingertips are possible causes of low or high readings.

Another tip for using a pulse oximeter at home is to follow the instructions of the device to a tee. Otherwise, you chance misreading the correct percentage level. Always sit in a resting position, place your hand on a flat surface, and make sure your fingers are clean and dry. When you do this, face your nail upwards.

Reading the Results: Identify the Right Numbers

The oximeter provides a readout of two numbers: your heart pulse rate (PR) and oxygen level (SpO2.) Do not move until the result remains unchanged for several seconds. Then, identify and record the percentage. An average oxygen saturation level is around 95-100 percent. Your healthcare provider can advise you on what numbers to look out for during at-home oximeter tests.

Cascade Health Care is a supplier of professional-quality pulse oximeter products with high sensitivity and specificity. We carry the Masimo Rad-G model for pediatric and adult use, alongside the Masimo Rad 5 model—a medical-grade infant pulse oximeter you can use efficiently at home. Glance through our assorted collection of professional produces and supplies today.