What is Pulse Oximetry?

What is Pulse Oximetry?
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Admit it: There is a little part of you that is scared of going to the doctor. Even the mightiest of men and women fall after a doctor’s diagnosis. There are a lot of horror stories in the doctor’s office and most of them don’t even have ghosts. It all boils down to the check up and finding the right diagnosis. This process can be excruciating, whether because of the pain or the anticipation of the worst. Some of these procedures like blood testing and urine sample collection can be quite uncomfortable for many people. However, there are some procedures that can be so easy you just need to sit down. One of which is finger pulse oximetry.

Oxygen is one of the most important compounds our bodies need to grow and develop (check this out). It helps in keeping everything together in our system since almost every cell in our body needs oxygen. Once we experience shortness of breath, our body goes into panic mode as it inhales more carbon dioxide instead of oxygen. If it goes into the cellular level, our bodies begin to crumble down and the last organ to go is our brain. Oxygen is needed for us to live, and along with carbon dioxide lets us breathe in and distribute it to the rest of our body. 

Now, how does this connect to finger pulse oximetry? Well, what a pulse oximeter does is it measures the amount of oxygen our blood has. Sounds really cool, right? You have this device than can measure even the oxygen molecules that permeate our blood stream. If you think though that you need to have an invasive procedure to experience this then you are quite mistaken. A finger pulse oximeter looks like a clamp with a screen. This shows the oxygen in your blood through the fingers or toes. It can even read oxygen levels through the ear lobe. All that you need is to clamp it at the part that you or the doctor decided, and then after a few seconds you have your results. It is so safe that you can just wear it for a longer period of time compared to other apparatus. 

Why Is This Important? 

Well, as mentioned previously, the depletion of oxygen levels can wreak havoc to your system. Oxygen readings are needed to see whether there is a problem with your heart or lungs. This can narrow down the diagnosis and it would be easier for the doctor to find a cure. You can also do this on your own as it is a very simple device to use. Once done, you can just inform your doctor about it. It can also help if you want to observe someone with heart or lung disease. If you went under an operation, this is also used to see whether you are still breathing while it is being done. 

What a pulse oximeter does is easy but there are many models of it. Some might have a probe for your fingers, so you need to remove your nail polish if you are wearing any. Finger pulse oximeters use light to see your capillaries underneath the skin. The color of the nail polish will obstruct this light and can give you a wrong reading. You may also be allergic to the device itself as it may have some adhesives. If you see any kind of irritation, stop using it and consult your doctor. 

If you want to buy one for your family, make sure that you buy from a reputable source. You can always order online, but there are some shops that offer substandard equipment. Always investigate the seller and read the reviews about their products. You can also ask someone who has ordered online to check if they really deliver on their results. If you have a medical supplies store near you, chances are they have these pulse oximeters as well. They can also have the hospital-grade pulse oximeters, but these can be quite expensive and you may not be able to buy them.

After the pulse reading, you can just go home unless the doctor says otherwise. If the latter is the case, you might need to stay longer in the hospital because there might be something wrong with your heart or lungs. 

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