What Is the Normal Pulse Oximeter Reading: Important Facts You Need to Know

Pulse Oximeter Advice

What Is the Normal Pulse Oximeter Reading Important Facts You Need to Know
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If your doctor has advised the use of a pulse oximeter, you must have a million questions about the device and the process. Questions like, how to properly use the device, what to look out for and what is the normal pulse oximeter reading, are quite common.

What is a Pulse Oximeter?

A pulse oximeter is a medical device used for pulse oximetry, a completely painless and non-invasive way to measure your blood oxygen saturation level. Measuring oxygen concentration means measuring the amount of oxygen in your blood.

The device is quite effective and pulse oximetry is an extremely simple and convenient way to monitor blood saturation. The device can accurately and instantly detect any changes in the oxygen concentration of your blood. It can accurately measure the amount of oxygen being carried to the farthest extremities of your body.

The pulse oximeter is surprisingly small. It is a clip-like device that you attach to your finger, ear lobe or toe. The device flashes light over the skin and analyzes the reflection of the light to determine the oxygen saturation levels.

The device does this by detecting changes in the reflection based on the color of the blood. Depending on the amount of oxygen in the blood, its color can change. Although the change in color is too subtle to be noticed by an untrained eye, the device’s microprocessor can instantly calculate the amount of oxygen in the blood.

Astonishingly, the device does this with surprising accuracy. A pulse oximeter can give accurate readings with a margin of error as small as two percent. The only way to get a more accurate measure of blood oxygen level is through a blood exam called arterial blood gas test.

What is a Pulse Oximeter Used For?

The sole purpose of a pulse oximeter is to check how well is oxygen being carried by your blood to every part of the body.

The following are some of the conditions that may require the use of a pulse oximeter:

  • Asthma
  • Lung cancer
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
  • Pneumonia
  • Anemia
  • Congenital Heart Defects
  • Heart Attack

The following are some of the reasons for using a pulse oximeter:

  • To assess the effectiveness of a lung medication.
  • To determine the effectiveness of oxygen therapy.
  • To assess the changes in oxygen concentration under physical exertion.
  • To determine if someone needs help with breathing.
  • To monitor blood oxygen levels during surgery, especially if sedation is involved.
  • To diagnose cases of sleep apnea during a sleep study.

How to Use a Pulse Oximeter?

Using a pulse oximeter is extremely simple. Since it is a clamp-like device, all you have to do is attach it to your finger, and it will start giving you reading of your oxygen concentration. Because it is such a small and simple device, it is commonly used for home-based oximetry. You don’t need any training either to use it or to understand it. Some basic information is all that’s necessary to understand its readings.

There are certain things that can interfere with the results of the device. The following are some of the things you should keep in mind:

  • Poor blood circulation to the fingertips can result in inaccurate readings.
  • Dark nail polish can affect the device’s accuracy.
  • Cold hands can also alter the readings of the device.
  • Some medical conditions can affect the results such as heart disease.

What is the Normal Pulse Oximeter Reading?

Aside from the few things mentioned above, pulse oximetry is a remarkably accurate test. So, what is the normal pulse oximeter reading? Typically, blood oxygen saturation level should be at least 89 percent.

Most healthy people have a blood oxygen saturation level of 95 and 97 percent. Oxygen concentration level of 92 percent of below can indicate a potential for hypoxemia, an oxygen deficiency in the tissues. Anything below 89 percent oxygen concentration is dangerous. Although a brief decline in oxygen concentration is not considered dangerous or harmful, if it happens regularly, it can pose a serious risk to our health.

Conclusion: Few Things to Keep in Mind

Before we end the article, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Oximeters are nothing more than medical devices. They are generally reliable, but far from perfect. It may be a lot of times, but it certainly isn’t an absolute measure of your health. Like any tool, its effectiveness depends on how you use it.

One of the most helpful things you can do is create a record of your oximetry readings. There is no much value in one particular reading in isolation. However, if you regularly log your oxygen saturation levels, you might be surprised to find out how insightful long-term data can be.

Analyzing oximetry readings over long periods of time can help you figure out prevalent physiological patterns in your blood concentration. Such insight can be used to make changes in your lifestyle that can have a long-lasting effect on your health and wellness.

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