The global pandemic called Covid-19 is taking its toll and the whole world is struggling to find a way to eradicate this menace. You must have heard about pulse oximeters in the news and Covid-19 is one of the reasons behind it. Now, what is a pulse oximeter? It is a useful device that you must know about as a health-conscious individual.
What is a pulse oximeter?
People suffering from lung or heart conditions can use a pulse oximeter to check their oxygen levels at home from time to time. It is essentially a painless and dependable device used by healthcare practitioners to measure the blood oxygen level of an individual.
When we take a breath, oxygen passes into our lungs, moves through flimsy tissue layers, and gets into our bloodstream. Subsequently, it is extracted by the RBCs (red blood corpuscles) and transported across the body to different organs.
A pulse oximeter is a portable gadget that typically slips over your fingertips or attaches to your earlobe. It applies infrared light deflection to assess how well oxygen is mixing with your RBCs.
This device shows blood oxygen levels through an oxygen saturation quantity, also known as SpO2 or peripheral capillary oxygen saturation.
What do pulse oximeter readings indicate?
If an individual has mild coronavirus symptoms and is undergoing self-treatment via isolation at home, a pulse oximeter can work as an effective tool to monitor his oxygen levels. The goal is to find out instantly whether the oxygen level is too less. Active smokers, people with pre-existing lung conditions, cardiac ailments, and obesity are prone to low oxygen levels in their blood.
There is a symptom called happy hypoxia or silent hypoxemia where oxygen levels are considerably low in people who should pass out and experience organ failure. However, in reality, they do well till the time they fall or become unconscious. Though hypoxic patients are mostly asymptomatic, a pulse oximeter guarantees that this medically quite red signal is not overlooked.
It’s a matter of concern for people who have happy hypoxia since patients are more substantially sick than they believe. It asks for thorough monitoring in a healthcare setup.
This is the reason you might be thinking if a pulse oximeter can help in the early detection of Covid-19.
So, is pulse oximeter helpful in the early detection of Covid-19?
The new coronavirus that leads to Covid-19 gets into our body via the respiratory system, creating direct harm to the lungs of an individual by causing pneumonia and irritation. Both these symptoms can have an adverse effect on how well oxygen is transported into our bloodstream.
This shortage of oxygen may take place at different phases of Covid-19 and not exclusively for severely ailing patients put on ventilators.
Nonetheless, everyone tested positive for coronavirus does not have low oxygen levels. Patients facing difficulties with gastrointestinal disorders, muscle pains, and fever can show normal oxygen levels.
For an individual with Covid-19, when do oximeter readings become a matter of concern?
You need to figure out your baseline SpO2 level. If SpO2 levels drop below 90%, you need immediate clinical intervention.
Eventually, patients must not consider pulse oximeter to be a device for COVID-19 screening tests. Bearing a normal oxygen level does not imply that you don’t have contagion. When you get worried about vulnerability, prescribed screening is still necessary.