Doctor: Being aware of your blood oxygen can be a life-saver in the pandemic
TV host Andy Cohen, who has recently recovered from COVID-19, told listeners on Andy Cohen Live on March 30 that owning a pulse oximeter was a source of relief for him. “You could scare yourself and think, ‘Oh my God, my lungs don’t feel right,’ but you could use this pulse oximeter and see, ‘OK, well actually, you’re fine, you’re within the range,’” he said.
A pulse oximeter is a tiny clip-like electronic device designed to measure the oxygen level of your blood. The small, handheld units normally attach to your finger or toe to measure how much oxygen is in the blood. This information helps the healthcare provider decide if a person needs extra oxygen.
They are now sold out when I called local pharmacies and grocery stores. The devices are typically used by patients with respiratory illnesses to see if their blood oxygen level is low. It’s also used by athletes and pilots who may sometimes need to keep tabs on their oxygen supply.
But many infected patients also experience their blood-oxygen levels dropping to lower than normal, a reason why some healthy adults died when their health condition deteriorate all of a sudden: the body used up the oxygen to hang in longer and appears to be in a better condition, which only made things worse, according to front-line doctors fighting the coronavirus.
So people are seeking help from this easy, painless measure to see how well oxygen is being sent to parts of body furthest from your heart, such as the arms and legs, buying some protection from the invisible deadly virus.
Why might I need pulse oximetry?
Pulse oximetry may be used to see if there is enough oxygen in the blood. This information is very essential because there are infected patients who did not realize they are in short of oxygen. Some young people died before they are confirmed with the coronavirus. Because there are so many infected ones without symptoms, they did not even know that they are infected. With this device, this kind of tragedy can be avoided by getting oxygen in time.
It can be used
- During or after surgery or procedures that use sedation
- To see how well lung medicines are working
- To check a person’s ability to handle increased activity levels
- To see if a ventilator is needed to help with breathing, or to see how well it’s working
- To check a person has moments when breathing stops during sleep (sleep apnea)
Pulse oximetry is also used to check the health of a person with any condition that affects blood oxygen levels, such as:
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Lung cancer
Your healthcare provider may have other reasons to advise pulse oximetry.
What are the risks of pulse oximetry?
All procedures have some risks. The risks of this procedure may include:
- Incorrect reading if the device falls off the earlobe, toe, or finger
- Incorrect reading led false jugdement
Your risks may vary depending on your general health and other factors. Ask your healthcare provider which risks apply most to you. Talk with him or her about any concerns you have.
How do I get ready for pulse oximetry?
Please read the instructions carefully, you may be asked to remove fingernail polish.
You can also consult with your doctor for getting ready.
What happens after pulse oximetry?
You can go on with your daily activities after the test, unless you are in the hospital or your readings looks not normal. You may go back to your normal diet and activities as instructed by your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider may give you other instructions.
Pulse oximeter can be bought for less than $100 at a local pharmacy. CVS and Wallsgreen say that they are all sold out. Here are some available ready to ship out from Dallas and arrive in 3 days.