You don’t have to be sick to benefit from a pulse oximeter. In fact, you do not even have to visit a doctor or a hospital to use one. Pulse oximeter readings are an affordable, effective tool for monitoring your health. Using one will improve your quality of life.
Pulse oximeter uses vary and are beneficial to many people. You can see improvements in your health by using one if you are:
- an athlete,
- in the healing phase, or
- treating disease.
Everyone from families, to caretakers and individuals can improve their quality of life with this simple tool. To understand how, it is important to understand what a pulse oximeter is.
Pulse Oximeter: How It Works
Pulse oximeter measures are complex and simple at the same time. They are complex because they incorporate two detailed readings: the color saturation of hemoglobin and the heartbeat, or pulse. Although this is highly technical and appears complicated, it is done quite simply.
The pulse oximeter is a small tool that clips to the finger or ear lobe, similar in design to a hair clip. It holds steady with minimal pressure. Then light is shone through the finger to a light detector on the other side. This simple mechanism is used to determine how “dark” or “bright” the blood is. The pulse oximeter readings compare the amount of LED light that shines through. Hemoglobin is bright red when it is oxygenated, and the light sensor can pick up this difference.
The other simplistic piece of the equation is determining heart rate. The rate at which the heart pumps the blood is also part of the complex equation used to determine oxygen saturation of the hemoglobin. A microprocessor uses all of this information to calculate how much oxygen is in the bloodstream, or the person’s SpO2.
Pulse Oximeter: How It Helps
Oxygen is the source of life for cells. Organs, and the human body as a whole, cannot function without it. Additionally, the better saturated one’s hemoglobin is, the better that person can perform. For this reason, knowing the SpO2 of a person is helpful information to not only prevent disaster, but to improve their current state regardless of what that state is.
Athletes tend to be healthy individuals by nature of sport. Part of athletics is working to find an edge on competition through maximizing training. Oxygen is as integral to high intensity performance as it is to life. Athletes can utilize pulse oximetry principles to measure their SpO2 during training. If their oxygen level is low, they can improve the quality of their session by engaging in deep breathing. This information is valuable for managing the stress and demands of competition.
Although it is well known that oxygen levels are a key indicator of health in a hospital setting, it is often overlooked that those levels are also essential during the healing process. Oxygen brings life to cells and healing is in essence the creation of new cells to repair what has been damaged. Patients healing from minor injuries such as sprains, and those recovering from more traumatic ones will see improved healing if they actively work to keep their SpO2 high. This can only be done if they actively monitor their levels. Once the pulse oximeter measures the amount of oxygen saturation, if it is low then healing can be aided with deep, pursed lip breathing.
Additionally, those who are being treated for a condition or disease not only benefit from pulse oximeter readings, their lives may actually depend on them. Once the oxygen saturation dips below the acceptable level a patient may turn blue or start to panic. At this point doctors and nurses are reactionary and treat the acute instance. With a pulse oximeter, slight changes can be detected beforehand. If a patient’s SpO2 begins to drop they can intervene with breathing exercises, or oxygen supplementation. Monitoring with a pulse oximeter is a great preventative technique for those who are ill, suffering from respiratory disorders like COPD, or anyone with sleep apnea.
A pulse oximeter has many different uses and one significant benefit. It increases the quality of life for all users and informs them of their current state of physical health. It is a valuable tool.