How To Utilize a Pulse Oximeter

by Calyn Ehid
Seniors should monitor their health even when not at the doctor's office. Practicing preventative health care can save a trip to the emergency room. A pulse oximeter is an affordable and easy-to-use device that can help monitor respiratory and cardiac status. Real-time data can be obtained regarding important vital signs such as oxygen saturation, heart rate, and heart rhythm. Oximeters can be combined with blood pressure monitors to give vital information about a person's health status.How To Utilize a Pulse OximeterPeople with chronic lung or heart conditions who may need emergency care will benefit greatly from having an oximeter. People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD, and who receive supplemental oxygen therapy at home can use an oximeter to ensure that they are receiving adequate oxygen levels in their blood. Adequate oxygenation is vital for organ function.Doctors may recommend home oximetry to patients so that they can analyze the vital signs data and determine whether treatment methods need to be adjusted. These devices are used in people of all ages from infants to elderly. Normal oxygenation is 95% or greater, although people with chronic lung diseases may operate at a lower baseline. These oximeter devices can monitor oxygen levels throughout the day so that treatment can be modified accordingly.

What Is A Pulse Oximeter

A pulse oximeter is a small medical device that measures peripheral oxygen saturation (SpO2), which is the amount of oxygen in the blood vessels. SpO2 is a reliable approximation of arterial tissue oxygen saturation (SaO2), which is the amount of oxygen in the blood perfusing the body's tissues and organs. The device enables a noninvasive and painless way to quickly measure oxygen saturation. The device is usually attached to the finger or ear lobe in adults and the toe or foot in infants. Spectrophotometry is the science behind these oximeters.For example, when the device is attached to one's finger, light of two separate wavelengths differentiates between oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin is the part of red blood cells that carries oxygen and changes shape depending on whether an oxygen molecule is attached. A detector in the oximeter detects the amount of light absorbed, and the values are used to calculate oxygen saturation using an equation known as the Beer-Lambert Law. Additionally, these devices can also detect heart rate.Next