What is Pulse Oximeter?
Pulse oximeter is a device that is capable of instantly measure the oxygen level in the blood. It can even detect variations in blood oxygen levels. The device uses a non-invasive mechanism to instantly read the saturation level of oxygen in the blood. It is completely painless. It is like a small clip that can be attached on the body part such as ear or a finger and it will instantly give a reading for the oxygen level in the blood.
Pulse oximeter is highly accurate with a possible error of only 2%. It shows the percentage of oxygen in the blood. However, factors like temperature of the body or any sort of movement can affect the reading so some guidelines need to be followed when using the device. Typically the blood should contain 89% oxygen in the blood. Oxygen levels lower than this can be a threat to your life therefore pulse oximeter is extremely useful device.
Purpose of Oximeter
The primary purpose of an oximeter is to measure the oxygen level in the blood. There are however, certain cases where the doctors use oximeters in hospital. These cases include,
- To check the effectiveness of a lung medicine.
- To check the effectiveness of a ventilator.
- The check the oxygen levels in the blood of the patient after a surgery.
- The check someone’s limitation against extreme physical activity.
- To check the oxygen levels in patients right after an accident.
Other than the aforementioned conditions, pulse oximeter may be used on a regular basis for people suffering from diseases that require constant monitoring of oxygen level in the blood. These diseases include asthma, lung cancer, heath patients and anemia.
How it works?
The oximeter is an extremely useful device with a very simple basic mechanism. It uses a simple processor with a pair of LEDs and a photodiode. One of the LEDs produces red light with a wavelength of 660nm while the other LED is used for infrared radiation at a wavelength of 940nm. The whole mechanism is based on the difference in the wavelengths of the two radiations. The red blood cells carrying oxygen absorb more infrared radiation than the deoxygenated red blood cells. The case is opposite for the red light. The oxygenated red blood cells absorb less red light than the deoxygenated red blood cells. They allow the infrared to pass through them. This allows the LEDs to note the presence of oxygen in the blood. The LEDs flash both radiations in turns and also together. The photodiode on the other end receives these signals. The minimum transmitted light is subtracted from the maximum transmitted light signal to cope with the fluctuations in the heart beat. The processor then calculates the ratio between the red light transmitted and the infrared radiation transmitted. This is then converted to standard readings through a programmed table.
Why use an Oximeter?
The oximeter is not only a device that is used by doctors and professionals only. It can be used by people at home for different purposes. Apart from the list of benefits one can acquire using an oximeter, it offers a very quick and easy way to monitor your oxygen level. All you need is to apply a clip on your finger and within minutes, you get all the information regarding your oxygen levels. Due to this convenience, it is especially useful for the following two cases.
- It can be used to test your physical tolerance. Physical activities require increased levels of oxygen to meet the energy needs. With a pulse oximeter, you can easily see your limitations and gently increase your tolerance without putting your health at risk. This is especially the case for people suffering from asthma who can face serious health issues if the oxygen level falls below a certain level during physical activity.
- If you’re suffering from a condition or disease that requires constant monitoring of oxygen level in the blood, oximeter saves you from frequent visits to the hospital. You can simply check and maintain your oxygen level from your bedroom.
Advantages of Oximeter
Summing it all up, oximeter offers a number of advantages that make it a ‘must-have’ device for all users, be it a patient or an athlete. Following are the prime benefits of using an oximeter.
- Quick and convenient
- Can show the blood oxygen level in real-time.
- Applications range from ICU for patients with respiration problem, to pilots flying at a high altitude.
- Portable and easy to carry allows the patient to keep track of their oxygen levels at all times.