If you’re anything like the rest of the world right now, you’re probably obsessively checking up on all the latest COVID-19 news you can get your hands on – especially the promising news. Many of us are desperate to hear advancements in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the virus that may help us to feel more reassured about the future for ourselves and our loved ones.
One of the most recent news topics of interest is that pulse oximeters may prove useful in helping us to test for COVID-19 from home. As a result, thousands of people have bought their own pulse oximeters, causing supplies to drop as manufacturers hurry to keep up with demand.
There is some evidence to suggest that pulse oximeters may help to detect one specific symptom of Coronavirus – but are they worth the investment? We’ll be looking in more detail at their benefits and uses in this article.How Pulse Oximeters Work
Pulse Oximeters are tiny devices that are typically attached to a patient’s finger, toe or earlobe to read their blood oxygen saturation levels. They feature light sensors, like the nellcor spo2 sensor, which can be used to detect the level of light that passes through the blood.
Highly oxygenated blood absorbs more infrared light, while deoxygenated blood, or blood with lower levels of oxygen saturation, absorbs less. With the data from measuring a person’s blood’s infrared light absorption, a pulse oximeter can give an accurate reading of how much oxygen a person’s blood contains.
Pulse Oximeters for COVID-19
Some people with COVID-19 develop pneumonia, which causes inflammation and damage to the lungs. While you might think that you would know for sure if you had pneumonia, such a thing as “silent hypoxia” exists, which is causing people’s blood oxygen levels to fall without them even knowing it.
In this case, a pulse oximeter can be used to detect low oxygen in the blood when a person might be unaware of it themselves. Being relatively low-cost, non-invasive and easy to use, it’s hardly surprising that pulse oximeters have taken off like they have in the past few months. If low blood oxygen is detected earlier, there’s a much better chance of a patient recovering quickly without the need for a ventilator.
Are Pulse Oximeters Worth It?
Low blood oxygen levels is a symptom of COVID-19, but not a common one. You would be unlikely to have COVID-19 to a severity of reduced blood oxygen levels without experiencing any other common symptoms, like high temperature and a dry cough.
With that said, if you had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and were recovering at home, it would be incredibly helpful to be able to check up on your health with a pulse oximeter – and take action if you discovered your condition was worsening.
There is little point in using a pulse oximeter on a daily basis to check your blood oxygen levels, but if you had real reason to use the device, it could just save your life.