If you are looking for a non-invasive method to measure oxygen levels in your blood then Pulse Oximeter is the ideal choice.
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This device is more beneficial and a great tool for people suffering from hypoxemia, bronchitis, COPD, pulmonary edema or any lung disease – as they are more prone to have below-normal levels of oxygen. If the oxygen levels continue to drop then it can lead to heart failure or brain damage.
Apart from people with breathing issues, these pulse oximeters are beneficial for athletes and people who want to keep a close eye on health.
These devices measure the oxygen levels present in the hemoglobin and provides the percentage of oxygenated blood in our body.
Want to purchase one for you? In this article, we have discussed about best 10 pulse oximeters which are carefully picked up by our experts after an extensive research of 60 hours. We have also assorted the factors to consider while choosing the pulse oximeter in our Buying Guide.
Top 10 Best Pulse Oximeters for Home Use
|Pulse Oximeters||Best suited for||Buy Now|
|Concord BlackOx||Adults and children||Check the Price|
|Santamedical Deluxe SM-110||Adults||Check the Price|
|AccuMed CMS-50DL||Adults and children||Check the Price|
|Zacurate Pro Series 500DL||Sport enthusiasts||Check the Price|
|Innovo CMS 50F||Sports enthusiasts||Check the Price|
|Nonin Medical GO2||Adults||Check the Price|
|TempIR||Anyone||Check the Price|
|Innovo Deluxe||Adults||Check the Price|
|HealthTree||Adults||Check the Price|
|Zacurate||Children||Check the Price|
Among the list, our editors gave first priority to “Concord BlackOx” because of its amazing features and high accuracy levels. As per the budget, it is quite affordable too. It is best suited for everyone. However, people with poor circulation should consider it on a high note because of its accuracy and sensitivity.
Review of Each Product in Detail
This product is designed, developed and marketed by one of the leading worldwide distributors, Concord Health Supply. This company is known for its excellence customer service and superior quality.
The concord blackOx pulse oximeter is used to measure blood oxygen and heart rate of both adults and children. The dual color digital OLED display will readout the readings in large numbers. By pushing a button, the display facing you will turn in the opposite direction facing the caregiver. You can even reduce or increase the display brightness.
It will automatically switch off when removed from the finger. This lets the device use less power and provides a long battery life. As it low in weight and portable, it can also be worn around the neck at all times. It is affordable priced so that it can meet all budget needs. It can be operated 30 hours continuously on AA batteries.
- Quick, easy to operate and accurate.
- USA based phone support and customer service.
- Silicone protective color.
- 2 year warranty.
- Two way display.
- Convenient carry case and lanyard.
- Remove battery compartment.
- Fussy under normal circumstances.
As per user reviews, santamedical is one of the best and most trusted finger pulse oximeters in the market. It is specially designed and developed for people with respiratory and lung diseases. It is also suitable for people who need to monitor their oxygen saturation and pulse levels on a daily basis.
It contains fast memory system which will keep record of last readings. When it comes to quality of readings, it will provide exact pulse level and oxygen saturation. It has excellent gripping quality and easily fits to any finger without being too tight or too loose.
This device is best suited for defense personals, medical practitioners, sports enthusiasts, and people with respiratory issues. It has a two-way display oximeter allows the users to see the readings in two directions. With large LED display, you can clearly see the readings both in indoor and outdoor environments.
This handy instrument is approved by FDA and CE which means that it can be trusted and has met the standards of International Medical requirements.
- Convenient, portable and reliable.
- Developed by renowned manufacturer – Santamedical.
- Has fast memory system.
- Suitable for everyone from medical professionals to home use.
- Strong in-built quality sensors.
- Bright back light LED display.
- You can read the readings from any angle.
- 2 year guaranteed.
- Long utility life.
- It doesn’t work on all fingers. However, it accommodates middle finger of all people.
If you are a sport enthusiast looking for an oximeter that can stand the harshness and shock of the outdoor terrain then this product has to be your choice. It is made up of rubber board and other durable components so it will last long.
This product is helpful in monitoring blood saturation, strength and pulse rate conveniently. It is light in weight, portable and flexible so you can carry it around anywhere you want. The finger size fits both adults and toddlers.
The digital LED display comes with ambient light which makes it easy to read the number even in dim lighting conditions. It features an auto-power off function which turns off the device within 5 seconds of removing the finger. A durable carrying case and lanyard is provided for easy portability.
- Digital LED display with ambient lighting.
- Fast and accurate readings.
- Auto-switch off feature.
- 1 year US warranty.
- Intended for sports and aviation.
- 40 continuous hours of battery life.
- Some people didn’t like the looks.
Have you been looking for a pulse oximeter that takes reading just in 10 seconds? Then you have to consider taking Zacurate Pro Series 500DL. It is specially designed for sport enthusiasts, pilots, and any others who want to check their PR and SpO2 levels.
You have to just clip it on the finger and turn the device on. With a matter of few seconds, you can view the readings on the large LED display. As it is small and portable, you can carry it around anywhere you want.
It is manufactured as per the FDA and CE standards for pulse oximeters. So, even doctors and other medical professional trust this product. A silicone cover is provided for the device in order to protect it from dirt and damage.
It can accommodate wide range of finger sizes. It comes with 12 years warranty. So, you can return the device if it turns faulty in the time period. A USA based technical and customer support is provided for any queries related to the product.
- Reliable, portable and highly accurate.
- Large digital LED display.
- CE and FDA approved.
- Suitable for all ages.
- Accommodates all fingers.
- 12 months warranty.
- USA based technical support.
- Battery dies too fast.
This is an improved version of the Innovo Snugfit, which will enhance the experience of measuring the blood oxygen saturation and pulse rate. It contains visual alarm and auditory which will warn you if the oximeter is not placed appropriately on the finger, levels are beyond set, and when the battery is low.
The CMS 50F has the ability to record and store the data of 24 hours. You can upload this record in the computer for further analysis if required. This device is best suited for aviators who wish to monitor SpO2 and pulse performance while flying.
It has superior color OLED screen which rotates 180 degrees. You can charge the device either by connecting to computer or to power supply though adapter (provided with it). Compared to old model, it has high accuracy levels as it is coated with infra-red absorbance material in order to reduce the infrared interference in the readings.
The strength of the tensile has been increased so that it ensures a tight fit without restricting the blood flow. Silicone is used for making the probe so that you can get a comfortable and hypoallergenic experience.
It has in-built Bluetooth functionality which allows you record pulse and SpO2 rate in real time. By downloading the SpO2 assistant software, you can summarize the several health reports including summary, oximetry, strip chart and several others.
- 24 hour data recording and analyzing capacity.
- In-built Bluetooth.
- Built-in auditory and visual alarm.
- 256K color OLED screen.
- Enhanced performance and comfortability.
- US-Based technical support.
- Rechargeable lithium battery.
- Extremely accurate and sensitive.
- Some people felt downloading the data a bit frustrating.
This is one of the expensive and manufactured pulse oximeters available in the market. It is widely marketed as the first choice among the respiratory therapists.
Clinically proven and patented Pure SAT pulse oximetry technology is used in this device. This technology makes the device accurate so, even medical professional trust its accuracy. However, even people can use it at home.
The accuracy is even proven in the low perfusion and dark skinned tones. It is designed in such a way that it can fit the any size from babies to adults. It uses 2 AAA batteries so that battery will last a long time.
The auto shut off and power on feature works based up on the finger pressure when the device is placed on. As it is made up of high quality and superior materials, it can withstand breaks and scratches. The manufacturer is providing a 2 year warranty.
- First choice of respiratory therapists.
- Made in United States of America.
- Superior durability.
- 2 year manufacturer warranty.
- Available in 6 colors: green, white, red, blue, pink, green and orange.
- Backlight is not good enough.
As per the user reviews, this product is one of the portable and highly accurate oximeters available in the market. Since, it is extremely light in weight and portable, you can carry it around wherever you want to.
If you are mountain climber or ardent hikers, you don’t have to worry about the product breaking in your package as it can withstand high-pressure settings. It is approved by CE and FDA so you can trust it for the accuracy.
It has a large dual-color OLED display which shows the results in a waveform and both numbers. The large numbers enable to read the measurements even in low/dim environments. It also has some amazing features like improved sensors, automatic shut-off and low power indicator.
The self-adjusting spring system will make sure the finger will fit in the chamber without stopping the blood flow. This device is perfect for bikers, runners, mountain hikers, or any other sport enthusiast.
- Portable, robust and durable.
- Affordably priced.
- Large OLED display.
- Auditory alarm.
- High density ABS plastic.
- Auto-power off.
- Photoplethysmography and bar graph optical technique to detect blood volume changes.
- Looks can be improved.
This product is considered to be the most Advanced Pulse Oximeter as it comes with two critically acclaimed features that include Perfusion Index (PI) and Plethysmograph. Each wave represented in display indicates heart beat and amplitude to the amount of blood detected in the blood vessels.
They are also let you know whether you are taking Pulse Rate and SpO2 accurately or not. It also features auditory alarm which will alert you when the SpO2 and pulse rate are beyond/lower than the limits.
It also makes an auditory sound for each detected pulse. The adjustable brightness feature ensures you can read the measurements at optimal light as per your convenience. It is best suitable for skiers, aviators, mountain climbers, hikers and other sport enthusiasts.
This product is specially designed such that it can be used even on newborn babies as well. It is made up of medical grade plastic and has advanced sensor technology which makes it one of the best in the market.
- Has 99 percent accuracy.
- Auditory alarm and advanced sensor technology.
- Long battery life.
- Very well-priced.
- PI and plethysmograph are included.
- OLED display comes with adjustable brightness.
- Competitively priced.
- Can be used for new-born babies as well.
- Protective casing not included.
This product offers to measure blood oxygen levels, heart rate, and plethysmograph index. It comes with Bluetooth technology which can be used to transfer the recorded data to any smartphone for further reference or further analysis.
You can synchronize real-time with oxitracker (free version) to store the information on the cloud which comes with unlimited data storage. You can also share the information with doctors and family members by sharing the same mobile app.
It is known for its reliable and accurate results every single time. A free silicone cover, 2 AAA batteries, and 12 inch lanyard are provided with the product. The OLED display screen will show the readings in 4 directions and waveforms. Its adjustable brightness features enables to read the measurements in both outdoor and indoor environments.
It will automatically shut-off within 10 seconds once you remove the finger. It is best suited for sport enthusiasts and people who have respiratory issues. It is not suitable for infants, toddlers and children.
- FDA and CE certified manufacturer.
- Bluetooth connectivity.
- Compatible with Apple, Samsung and other smartphones.
- Rotating OLED screen.
- Adjustable brightness.
- Accurate and durable.
- Not suitable for kids and pets.
If you are looking for portable and non-invasive pulse oximeter for kids then Zacurate is one of the best among the products present in the market. The finger chamber of the device is specifically designed to suit the small fingers of kids. It can also be used by adults with small fingers.
Zacurate pulse oximeter is very simple and easy to operate. All you have to do is place the finger in the chamber for 5 – 10 seconds and you will get the readings. It provides readings of SpO2 (blood oxygen level) and pulse rate within seconds. It also has a plethysmograph which represents blood flow for additional accuracy.
It has an adorable animal theme which specially developed for kids. The device has a high quality OLED display and multidirectional display which will show the readings even in dim lighting conditions. The multidirectional display will let both user and caregiver to see the readings.
It is perfect for sport enthusiasts and aviation purposes. Children aged 2 and up can use this device. The manufacturer provides free pouch, lanyard and 2 AAA batteries. If your kid is below 2 years then consult a physician before using the device.
Things We Liked:
- Rotational multi-directional display.
- OLED screen.
- SpO2 and Pulse rate.
- Also includes plethysmograph waveform.
- Accurate results.
- Suitable for 2 and up years.
- Portable and easy to carry.
- Easy to operate.
- 30 hours of battery life.
Things We Didn’t Like:
- Short warranty period.
What is a Pulse Oximeter?
Pulse oximeters are specially designed and developed to measure the oxygen levels or saturation in the blood using any invasive methods. They are used in hospitals, physical therapy clinics and operating rooms. Many medical professionals are now suggesting to have one at home for everyone to monitor the levels and stay on track.
How Does a Pulse Oximeter Work?
Pulse oximeters helps you measure how much hemoglobin your blood is actually carrying. So, before we understand about the working principle of pulse oximeter, first we shall know about oxygen saturation.
As we already know, everyone one of us require oxygen for living. When your inhale, your lungs will actually pass on the oxygen into the blood. The hemoglobin present in the blood carries the oxygen to several parts of the body through blood vessels.
Hemoglobin without oxygen is considered de-oxygenated blood, while hemoglobin with oxygen is called oxygenated blood.
Oxygen saturation = the percentage of hemoglobin carrying the oxygen.
For example, if there are 18 hemoglobin units present in the blood and none of them are carrying oxygen then oxygen saturation is considered as 0%. And if the 9 of the hemoglobin units are carrying oxygen then oxygen saturation is considered as 50%.
So, as we are now aware of what oxygen saturation is – we shall now look into how a pulse oximeter works…
You have to place the finger in the probe. Above the finger, a light source will be present that emits light. A pulse oximeter actually uses light waves to detect the oxygen saturation in our blood. Our finger contains an artery (carrier blood) and a vein (through which blood leaves) – using which an oximeter detects the saturation.
When you place the finger, the light will travel through it in order to reach the detector. Some part of the emitted light will be observed by the finger and some of it will reach the detector below. The absorption of the light by our body depends on many physical factors which are used by the oximeter to calculate the saturation.
Below are some of the factors that enable the light absorption…
- Concentration of light absorbing substance.
- Light path length in the absorbing substance.
- Different absorption capabilities of oxyhemoglobin and deoxyhemoglobin blood.
Let’s have a clear look on each of these factors…
1. Concentration of Light Absorbing Substance
Hemoglobin has the capacity of absorbing the light. The amount of light absorbed is actually proportional to the hemoglobin concentration in the blood vessel. However, blood vessels don’t have same concentration of hemoglobin. Some of them may have low hb and some of them may have high concentration.
The more hb present in the area, the more light is absorbed. So by calculating this, the oximeter understands how much hb concentration is present in your blood vessel.
2. Light Path Length in the Absorbing Substance
Usually, not all arteries have same concentration of hemoglobin and width of them also differs. Usually, the light emitted from the oximeter travels through the artery. If the artery is narrow then light will travel in a shorter path. In the same way, if the artery is wide then the light will travel longer.
Even if the hb concentration is same in both arteries – as the light will travel long in wider artery – it will meet more hb than narrow one. So, the longer the path is, the more light is absorbed.
3. Different absorption capacities of hemoglobin depending on with and without oxygen.
Actually, hb which contains oxygen is capable of absorbing more infrared light compared to red light. In the same way, the hb which doesn’t contain oxygen absorbs more red light compared to infrared light.
This is the most important factor used by the oximeter to calculate saturation levels. It calculates how much red light and infrared light is absorbed by the blood which gives a clear result of the oxygenated and deoxygentated blood. Based on this information, the oximeter will further calculate and saturation levels.
So, here is how an oximeter works. Some external factors like nail polish can affect the light absorption capacity. So, we recommend to remove it before using the device.
Different Types of Pulse Oximeters
There are 5 types of oximeters – finger pulse, handheld, table top, wrist worn and pediatric. We have provided a detailed description below. So, you can pick up any one based on your requirements.
1. Finger Pulse oximeter
It is one of the widely used device among oximeters. They are also known as portable pulse oximeters. It helps to keep a track record of oxygen level in the blood and heart rate. It is shaped like an alligator clip which should be clipped on to finger or earlobe. An infrared light will be passed through the veins in order to measure the oxygenated blood.
You can read the measurement on the LCD display. If the fingers or earlobes are cold then it may not provide accurate readings. Most of these oximeters are battery operated. Due to their portability and affordability, they are perfect for home use, caregivers, and clinics.
2. Handheld Pulse Oximeter
These oximeters are a bit more sophisticated than finger pulse type. These are widely used by medical institutions and hospitals as their operation is a little complex because they provide more accurate results. They can be used at home as well by the patients who need continuous oxygen saturation monitoring.
This oximeter has 2 parts – the probe and display screen. Both these parts are connected with a cable. The probe will be attached to the index finger to calculate the blood oxygen levels which will displayed on the screen. Using infrared, this device provides accurate readings. In emergency cases, you can even attach it to toe for readings.
3. Tabletop Oximeter
These are the biggest versions of oximeter with a similar working principle of handheld oximeters. Just like handheld type, tabletop oximeters contains 2 parts – probe and display screen which are connected via cable. They are mostly used in home care centers, medical facilities and hospitals.
Some of them contains an added feature – audio and visual alarm. They help to warm the people around when the oxygen levels drop or pulse rate falls down. Some of these oximeters also come with plethysmograph display which are great for monitoring patients. You can even store the data or logs of the readings up to 100 in some of them.
4. Wrist Worn Oximeter
Just like the name sounds, they appear like wrist watches. They are a great tool for continuous monitoring (daily or during sleep). Like other oximeters, the probe will be attached to the finger and readings will be displayed on the screen which will be worn on the wrist. The probe and display are actually connected via cable which is not a hindrance. Some of these oximeters are capable of storing data, have wireless connectivity for data transfer.
5. Pediatric Oximeter
This type of oximeter is specially designed for the small fingers, toes and ankles of babies (below age of 4). Regular finger pulse oximeters are bigger in size which make it difficult to take the readings. Some of these pulse oximeters have alarm indication when the oxygen levels drop. They also have an anti-motion feature which is helpful in getting accurate result even if the kid is moving his/her hand.
How to Choose Pulse Oximeter?
Just like any other device, you have to consider certain factors while purchasing a pulse oximeter. We have mentioned them below for your reference…
The pulse oximeter we purchase should guarantee 2% (plus or minus) results of actual SpO2 levels. This range is actually determined after clinically testing the oximeter technology. Apart from that, the oximeter should also provide accurate oxygen saturation results up to 70% – which means that the device should provide accurate reading even when the arterial oxygen levels are not ideal enough. This helps in understanding situation whether to seek medical attention or not.
Warning systems are provided to know if the device is providing accurate results or not. Below are 3 types of warning systems usually observed in pulse oximeters…
- Low Battery Indicator: This is one of the main things, especially if you are suffering with any health problem or depending on it for disease management.
- Irregular Heartbeat: If your heartbeat is not steady enough and constant like has to be in normal conditions then an alarm or beep sound is produced by the device to warn you. A warning will also be produced if there is any heart arrhythmia which can be a concern.
- Low SpO2 Results: when you have low or inadequate SpO2 levels then you may feel dizzy or experience blurred vision. At that time having an indicator that beeps can be a lifesaver.
Usually, people who use pulse oximeter need to carry it with them wherever they go. Sport enthusiasts and pilots have to keep them around their neck, in pocket or secure them on a belt holster. So, they have to be portable enough.
3. Light in Weight
Though some oximeters are small enough, but they can still be heavy and uncomfortable to carry around, especially for those who have hypoxia (results from cardiovascular or pulmonary disease). The weight of the device affects the durability. Heavy oximeters can get damaged if they are accidently dropped. So, check out if the device is heavy or light (depending on the patient capability).
There is a lot of difference between cheap junk and durable devices. As it is a matter of your health, durability is a major factor. A good pulse oximeter can withstand accidental dropping, should be waterproof and also it has to be capable of protecting it against humidity.
If you found non-adjustable oximeters uncomfortable or if you have large fingers then look out for adjustable devices. Some non-adjustable devices can be too hard on the fingers. With adjustability, you can dial it as per your comfortability.
6. Automatic Activation
This feature is very helpful for people who have to take SpO2 levels frequently or if they are weak with low oxygen levels. Upon inserting a finger or toe, the device will automatically switch on and take the readings.
Having a backlit display is very important. As there are different backlight and font colors combinations available, you can choose any one based on your interest or preference. Some oximeters also contain brightness adjustable feature. Having a display with multiple viewing angles can also be helpful for reading the device.
8. Finger Size
If the pulse oximeter doesn’t fit the finger perfectly then it can give you inaccurate readings. Wondering how to choose the right size – here’s the solution – having an adjustable spring system enables the device to accommodate a wide array of finger sizes (including children). So, if you are planning to share the device with your family members then choose an adjustable model. If you are using it only for your child then purchase pediatric one as they are specially calibrated for them.
9. FDA Approval
When it comes to drugs and medical devices – FDA (The US Food and Drug Administration) tests and approves them before releasing to market. To keep it simple, FDA approved means it is of high quality and trustable device. As pulse oximeter is a class II medical device, FDA approval is very important. If you want to know whether the brand you chose has the approval or not then check in their Medical Device Database (enter manufacturer’s name for getting all the details).
10. Display Size
The display and the numbers it portrays should be good enough to read even in dim lights. Some people prefer certain background colors while some prefer large text.
11. Battery Life
If you have to use the oximeter multiple times in a day then purchase the one with good battery life. Usually, there are two options available for it: either it can be powered by lithium battery (rechargeable) or it works on AAA batters (it’s a cheaper one which lasts for 30 working hours).
For some people price may not be an important factor. However, if the budget is tight then considering a device at reasonable price (with maximum features) is important. Usually, the price of the device depends on the features, accuracy, brand and quality. Most of the pulse oximeters range from $20 to $50. And finally, check out the warranties or return policies provided by the manufacturer because it helps to reduce the risk of receiving a faulty one.
13. Some Other Features to Consider
Though these are not so important, their presence can be an added advantage…
- Memory for storing data and multi-person memory storage enables to store the readings which can be recalled whenever required.
- Bluetooth or USB connectivity for data transfer to your PC.
- Sending real-time data to your doctor.
- Capability of generating statistics like perfusion index, plethysmograph or others which help in getting better diagnosis.
- Audible alarms which indicate low oxygen levels or other potential concerns.
- Access to previous readings.
- Auto-shut off feature to save the battery.
Different Methods of Monitoring Oxygen Saturation
Basically, there are two different types of measuring oxygen saturation that include – transmission method and reflectance method.
1. Transmission Method
In this process, the transmitter (LED) and receiver (photo detector) are present on the opposite side. The finger has to be placed between these two components. When placed, a light will pass through the finger. Some of the light will be absorbed by the finger and some of them will reach the detector. With every heartbeat, the volume of blood flow will increase – this result in more absorption of light and less light reaching the photo-detector.
As we see the waveform of the light signal – it usually consists of peaks and trough between the heart beat. The difference between these two is a reflection value because of the blood flow volume at the heart beat.
2. Reflectance Method
Whereas in this method, both photo-detector and LED will be placed on the same side of device beside each other. In this process, certain fixed light reflection will be sent back to sensor due to the finger. With each heart-beat, an increase in the blood volume will result in reflection of more light back to sensor.
The waveform of the received light signal will usually consist of peaks at each heartbeat. The fixed low value reading present in between the heart beats is referred as constant reflection. And this difference of peak subtracted from constant reflection value is referred as reflection value because of the blood flow at the heart beat.
In both of these methods, the peaks or troughs are observed in reflected light at each heart-beat. The time between the two troughs/peaks is used for measuring heart rate. So, a typical heart beat sensor module usually contains a Transmitter LED and a photo detector.
Steps to Follow While Using a Pulse Oximeter
Below is a clear step by step procedure for using a pulse oximeter. By following them you can be assured to get accurate results.
Step 1: Press the power button firmly to turn on the pulse oximeter. Once on, the screen will light up instantly.
Step 2: Place your finger in the sensor/probe (part which opens and closes like clothespin). Make sure the sensor screen is above fingernail. If your pulse oximeter doesn’t have a screen then run the cable along the back of hand or finger. Never use a thumb because it provides less reliable results.
Step 3: Wait patiently until the oximeter catches the signal. Usually, this take 10 or more seconds based up on the condition or device. Make sure the hand and fingers stay still during the process. Because making movements while taking measurement can decrease the accuracy or provide error message.
Step 4: Check out the heart rate on the screen/display – this is usually indicated with a pulsing light or heart image. The oxygen levels are indicated by SpO2. Some of the devices also provide pulse tone that beeps with the heat rate.
Step 5: If you want to monitor the levels continuously then leave the sensor. However, leaving the sensor can actually cause pressure sores if left too long. Make sure to move or check the sensor once in 4 hours. If you just want to take a single measurement then remove the finger and press the power off button.
Tips & Warnings To Consider for Accurate Results
- Read the manual provided by the manufacturer carefully before using the pulse oximeter.
- Remove the nail polish, especially dark colors as they lead to inaccurate results.
- For fast results, place the finger in the probe before switching on the device.
- You can get inaccurate results if the blood flow is poor in the finger. This usually happens when the person’s temperature is low or if the person is having heart attack or has a very blood pressure.
- Carbon monoxide which usually occurs when smoke is inhaled or when the person has heavy smoking habit then results can be falsely high.
- Altitude can also impact the results due to lower oxygen pressure in the air.
Normal oxygen saturation readings range 95 to 100 percentage. If low oxygen saturation occurs then check for respiratory distress, shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing, wheezing, discoloration of nails, face or lips. If this happens or pulse oximeter shows below 90% then seek medical attention immediately.
Causes Of Inaccurate Pulse Oximetery Readings
Under some conditions, an oximeter may not provide accurate readings. Below are some conditions explained in detail…Make sure to keep them in mind while taking the measurements.
1. Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide molecules can get attached to hemoglobin by replacing the oxygen molecules. As the pulse oximeter cannot differentiate between carbon monoxide and oxygen you can get inaccurate results. For example: if you hemoglobin has 80% oxygen and 15% carbon monoxide then you will get a reading of 95%. This situation can slip the dangerous situation. So, second hand smoking, carbon monoxide poisoning and heavy cigarette smoking can provide inaccurate results.
2. Hemoglobin Deficiency
If you have low levels of hemoglobin then you will not get accurate results. On an average, a healthy person should have 11 – 18 g/dl.
3. Irregular signals
Irregular heartbeats or patient’s movements can provide irregular signals to oximeter, leading to inaccurate readings. You can notice this problem by looking at SpO2 waveform.
4. Blood Volume Deficiency
Health problems like hypothermia, hypotension, hypovolemia may show adequate oxygen saturation but low on the oxygen carrying capacity.
5. External factors
Bright lights, electro-magnetic fields and nail polishes can be result in inaccurate readings.
6. Skin Pigmentation
Darker skin pigmentation enables the pulse oximeter to over-estimate oxygen saturation results, especially when it is below 80%. So, it is better to measure in a lighter skin area.
It is a form of hemoglobin which is not capable of carrying oxygen. Usually, everyone has 1 -2 % of methemglobin. However, high amounts of it can lead to inaccurate readings. Having high amounts of it can be either genetic or caused due getting exposed to certain medications or chemicals.
Advantages Of Pulse Oximeter
There are several benefits of using this pulse oximeter – some of them are mentioned below for your knowledge.
1. Monitoring Fitness
When we suddenly start our fitness exercises, initially it will be difficult in maintaining the oxygen levels required by your body during the routine. By using a pulse oximeter, you can calculate the oxygen levels and push your body to limit without making yourself completely exhausted. Having an eye on your pulse rate during the routine is another benefit of using this device.
2. Great for High Altitude Sports
This device alerts you when the body is depriving of the oxygen – which is one of the crucial problem especially for sport enthusiasts. People who play sports like hand gliding, skydiving, climbing and other high altitude games can use this device for determining the arterial blood oxygen levels.
3. Managing COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
This disease occurs when this cells present in the lungs get damaged to an extent that they cannot be repaired. This condition requires medication, routine management and monitoring of blood oxygen levels. When the oximeter alerts with low oxygen levels then the patient has to take rescue medication or oxygen therapy as required or prescribed.
4. Asthma Care
Though this condition is not as serious as COPD, but patients dealing with debilitating asthma attacks regularly which makes them feel like they will not catch the breath again. For chronic asthma patients, using a pulse oximeter provides an indication when the airways are becoming restricted (before it becomes serious). This alert can be lifesaver in many situations.
5. A Great Relief for Pulmonary Patients
Some pulmonary conditions are life threatening. People dealing with such issues can be benefited by using am oximetery device – which helps them identify the changes happening in the arterial blood oxygen levels before the situation gets complicated.
6. Low Maintenance
Once the devices are calibrated, the oximeter works the same even after few years as it did initially. When the device is turned on, it will perform a checkup of circuits and it will not run the scan unless the device passes all the built-in tests.
7. Reasonably Priced
Though some of the high end oximeter cost more than $50, some of the at home devices are reasonably priced too with at least 2 year warranty. So, we cannot argue on cost because it depends on how much you can spend on them.
8. Less Invasive
When compared to blood gas testing, this device is less invasive. This is beneficial for people who go on regular blood work. Though this device cannot tell you the CO2 levels, but it will indicate low oxygen levels which is enough to consider a medical help.
9. Accurate Pulse Readings
Whether you have a disease or want to just know the pulse rate – this device is much more reliable than placing your two finger on the artery and counting the beats. This is very beneficial for people who are anxious, have racing heart and overexertion.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. When should you clean a pulse oximeter?
If the device is not working properly or shown falsely results or error information then it indicates that the oximeter is dirty. Cleaning it properly can solve the issue and make it work properly.
2. What is the Process of Cleaning a Pulse Oximeter?
If the LED lights are inhibited, the readings can be inaccurate. So, it is very important to clean the probe so that lights are not blocked by any impurities like dirt and dust. Regardless of the frequency of use, oil and dirt can accumulate over time on the device.
For cleaning a pulse oximeter – all you have to do is clean inside of the clip using a dry, soft and unhygienic cloth. Concentrate more near the 2 LED lights – infrared and red light.
Make sure you never use water or any liquid to clean the probe. However, you can use alcohol wipes for cleaning purposes.
3. How to Take Care of a Pulse Oximeter?
It is very important to take proper care of oximeter because your health is depended on it. Below are clear step by step instructions for the same…
- Make sure to switch off the pulse oximeter before cleaning it.
- Using a dry/soft cloth or alcohol wipes, clean the exposed areas and LED lights.
- Now, clean the elastic thimble present in the oximeter. Clear all the dirt or blood present on it.
- While cleaning the SpO2 sensors, use only soft and dry cloth. Make sure the sensors are always dry, especially before using the device.
- If the device indicates a low battery then replace the batteries.
- Moist environment can damage the pulse oximeter, leaving it useless. So, make sure to store the oximeter in dry areas.
- Never spray, spill or pour liquid on the oximeters, including their accessories and openings.
4. What is Considered As Normal Oxygen Saturation Level?
If the SpO2 levels are more than 95% then it considered as normal. If SpO2 levels are 92% or less than it (at sea level) then it is considered as abnormal or hypoxemia. Usually, SpO2 levels saturate while performing different activities throughout the day.
For attaining accurate oxygen saturation levels, we recommend checking it out 4 times in a day for 5 days using your pulse oximeter.
If a patient has acute respiratory illness or breathing difficulty then SpO2 levels of 92% the oxygen supplementation is required. If a patient with chronic disease has SpO2 of 92% or less then long term oxygen therapy has to be considered.
Though pulse oximeter is useful for making decisions, you should remember that it is not substitute for clinical assessment.
5. Where Can I Purchase a Pulse Oximeter?
You can buy an oximeter in local pharmarcy store, retail channels or online. If you have no idea of which one to purchase then it is better to consider online option. Because you will have plenty of time researching about the product, features, reviews, benefits and other information provided by genuine buyers. Even if you prefer to purchase from a local store, it is better to do the research online before making a decision.
6. What are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Buying Oximeter Online?
One of the biggest advantage of purchasing online is – comparison. You can check out the features and other stuff of the product in detail. You can also check out the customer review for better understanding of the product. Online sources like Amazon have larger range of choices to choose from. You can invest your driving time into research while purchasing online.
Benefits of Purchasing Online:
- Plenty of time for researching about the product.
- A wide array of products on display.
- You can search as per your budget requirement.
- Several reviews, ratings and comparisons.
- Convenient and comfortable (as you don’t have to drive, waste gas)
Drawbacks of Buying Online:
- You have to wait till the item is delivered.
- You will not be able to talk to a sales person directly.
- If you don’t like the product then you have to ship it back.
7. What are pros and cons of purchasing in a store?
The main advantage of purchasing a pulse oximeter in a store is that you will be able to interact with a sales representative – who can help you shop for a good device. You can use or replace the product immediately if you don’t like the product.
However, the options can be limited. You have to drive to the store – which can be frustrating if the shop isn’t around the corner. It is not possible to compare the reviews in a shop.
If you like to purchase it in a store then you can do it from any physical retailer like Costco, Besty buy, Target, Walmart and others.
Benefits of Purchasing in a Store:
- You can pick the device by yourself.
- You can return by hand if you don’t like the product.
- You can interact with a sales representative.
Drawbacks of Purchasing in a Store:
- You have to drive or walk to a store.
- Only few options will be available to choose from.
- Difficult to compare product based on star ratings, popularity charts, and customer reviews.
8. What is considered to be a good reading on a pulse oximeter?
Usually, a healthy person will have normal SpO2 (blood oxygen saturation levels) of 94 – 99%. If you have mild respiratory diseases then Sp02 will be 90% or above. If the SpO2 levels fall below 90% then supplementary oxygen should be taken. Because low SpO2 levels can be troublesome if they are present for a prolonged period of time. If the levels are below 92% or less then they may need long-term oxygen therapy.
Actually, oxygen saturation fluctuates throughout the day depending on the activities you are doing. So for knowing the actual range, check the saturation range 4 times in a day for 5 days.
9. Is a Pulse Oximeter Accurate Enough to Trust Up on?
Actually, a pulse oximeter is accurate enough. Most of the oximeters provide either over 2% or under 2% depending on saturation that would be obtained by arterial blood gas. For example, if the oximeter provides oxygen saturation as 92% then the actual reading will be somewhere between 90% – 94%.
10. Is an oxygen level of 93 bad?
93 is actually a normal range. If the SpO2 levels fall below 90% then it is considered to be low. If this levels stay for a prolonged time period then it can lead to hypoxemia.
11. Which finger is appropriate for taking pulse oximeter readings?
As per a study published in US National Library of Medicine, right middle finger and right thumb have provided the accurate values.
Monitoring blood oxygen saturation level is very important for people who are suffering from respiratory issues. Investing in a pulse oximeter can be helpful for the same. And moreover you don’t have to shell out much money as they are available in affordable price range.
As per the experts, Concord BlackOx is the highly recommended one. However, you can choose any one from the list or other oximeters. But make sure to consider the factors, we have mentioned in the buying guide.
If you have any queries, feel free to write to us in the comment section. We will make sure to reply or clarify them as soon as possible. If the information provided in this article is good enough then share it with your family and friends.