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Best Pulse Oximeter

Verified by Kiera Powell, R.N. and written by Jack Vejvoda on Wed Oct 06 2021.
Medically Verified

The pulse oximeter is getting much more attention these days due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You might be wondering, how does this device work and how can it help me?

What is a Pulse Oximeter?

A pulse oximeter helps people monitor oxygen by using light beams to estimate blood oxygen saturation and pulse rate (similar to heart rate). Oxygen saturation gives you information about how much oxygen is in your blood cells. Pulse oximeters can also measure tissue perfusion, which is the amount of blood that flows through your circulatory system.

How to Use a Pulse Oximeter

According to the FDA, the proper use is reached by first washing your hands, removing any nail polish on the finger you plan on using, making sure your hand is warm, placing the oximeter on your finger, and holding it below the level of the heart. Typically the middle finger on the right hand is used for the most accurate measurement. Sit still and wait a few seconds until the reading displays one steady number. Be sure to also follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the individual device you are using.

Pulse oximetry might be recommended by your doctor if you have a condition that affects your oxygen levels. Some examples include long-term heart or lung problems or asthma. Additionally, if you have symptoms of the Coronavirus, that might be a good time to check your oxygen levels.

Based on the above, it’s clear that pulse oximeters can offer a lot of valuable information about one’s health. Knowing your blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) and heart rate at any moment is valuable knowledge. Because of this, it’s important to purchase a device that is reliable and trustworthy. Carewell carries a wide selection of pulse oximeters.

How to Read a Pulse Oximeter

Pulse oximeter readings are fairly easy to interpret. Most devices will display two numbers, the number next to “PR” is your pulse rate and the number next to “SpO2” is your blood oxygen saturation. When taking pulse oximeter readings, pay attention to how the results compare to previous readings. Changes or trends might be more meaningful than one single measurement.

What is a Normal Oxygen Level?

According to the FDA, most healthy individuals have an SpO2 value between 95%-100%. A value lower than 95% is considered a low oxygen level. Below 92% indicates a very low reading and potential hypoxemia (low oxygen levels in the blood).

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Best Pulse Oximeters

Mckesson Fingertip Pulse Oximeter

This device is non-invasive and suitable for pediatric to adult use. The multi-angle display shows easy-to-read levels of functional blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) and pulse rate (PR). Its easy-to-use design allows for adjustable brightness and delivers a long battery life.

Proactive Fingertip Pulse Oximeter

This device only needs two AAA batteries that last for more than 30 hours of use, shutting off automatically when no signal is detected to preserve the battery life. it also displays digital SpO2 and PR while using bar graph technology to monitor heart rate.

Baseline Fingertip Pulse Oximeter

This option is the most economic of the three and provides a clear LCD display and is lightweight and portable.

Final Thoughts

Whether you are monitoring the health of a loved one or looking to learn more about your own health, pulse oximetry can be the right choice for you. These devices can offer peace of mind or important information if you are caring for someone with a long-term heart or lung disease. A pulse oximeter works with just a fingertip, and with easy-to-use instructions and a clear display, this device can be a benefit to any caregiver.

If you have questions about the item we’ve linked in this post, please reach out to our friendly Caregiving Specialists. Call (855) 855-1666 or send an email to support@carewell.com. They can help you make the right decision for your loved one’s needs.

Recommended Read: 7 Smartphone Apps Designed to Make Caregiving Easier

COVID-19 Disclaimer: While this device offers one way to measure your symptoms if you test positive for COVID-19, it should not be the only way to gauge overall health. While uncommon, devices can give inaccurate readings. Please contact your medical provider if you are experiencing emergency symptoms, as outlined by the CDC, such as trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds.

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Jack Vejvoda

Jack Vejvoda is Carewell’s Special Projects Associate who resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. A west coast native, he enjoys all things outdoors: hiking, running, biking, skiing, you name it!