Best 10 Pulse Oximeters
As Of March 2021
Did you know that the first pulse oximeters took measurements from the patient’s earlobe? As funny as it may sound, it was a significant medical advancement back in the ’40s.
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Keep Up Your Life’s Pace With A Modern Pulse Oximeter
Pulse oximetry is an advanced, accurate and non-invasive healthcare test, which measures the amount of oxygen in our blood cells. Getting our vital signs right is one of the most critical factors for our overall health and well-being. Especially when we face hypoxia symptoms; or if we want to level up our fitness program in a balanced way.
Although clinicians have not entirely replaced invasive blood gas measurement, nowadays they also use pulse oximeters to check the balance of carbon monoxide and oxygen in our arterial blood; this way, they can proceed to the proper therapy, relieving us from a lot of unnecessary pain and discomfort.
But what about home regular users? The answer is that this smart and small medical device can come quite handy to ensure that we don’t take more than we can chew in our daily activities.
In the buying guide below, you will find a lot of useful information on the matter, in the hopes that you will decide which pulse oximeter fits best your health profile.
Let’s have a look!
When Do I Need to Use A Pulse Oximeter?
There are specific groups of people that need to take their oxygen saturation levels and pulse rate regularly, especially after their doctor’s advice, although the latter it’s not always necessary. Check if you fall into some of the following categories:
- Patients with certain lung diseases, who use SpO2 generators and respirators should always monitor the blood oxygen levels so that they can support themselves in time.
- Patients with heart disease, hypertension or diabetes.
- Pregnant women and elders during every important transitional phase.
- People with edgy lifestyles, people who find themselves drinking a lot or, stressing out at work.
- High-altitude travellers and pilots who regularly rush into the skies as part of their daily routine.
- Sports fans, trainers, people who do their workouts at home.
You see, it’s not always chronic patients who need to take care of themselves; our everyday lives can be so hectic sometimes that we tend to push our mental and physical limits, without even realising it! So, if you feel that it’s time to improve your quality of life, it’s a good idea to have a fingertip pulse oximeter to help you with that.
How Does a Pulse Oximeter Work?
Pulse oximeters are compact, portable medical devices which run on AAA batteries. But to understand how they work precisely, we need to know how our body works first.
Our blood absorbs light from our natural environment at several wavelengths. The thing is that oxygenated blood cells absorb different wavelengths of light compared to the deoxygenated ones.
So, what fingertip pulse oximeters do? They emit a broad spectrum of infrared red light. On the other side, there is a diode that measures how much light passes through. The haemoglobin, the protein responsible for transferring oxygen from the lungs to the tissues, sends its light signals to the sensor. Then, it makes some quick calculations that appear as a waveform on your OLED screen display. But, the device doesn’t stop there: It goes further to trace your pulse rate and blood pressure, too!
So, you get a combined “glimpse” of your overall health status as fast as possible. As accurate as possible. This way, you can ask for medical advice in time or change the rate of your activities to a more bearable, risk-free level. Always remember that a pulse oximeter that’s approved from FDA and NHS is trustworthy, will provide you with trustworthy metrics.
Nicely done, don’t you think?
What Types of Fingertip Pulse Oximeters Can I Find?
There are two main types of pulse oximeters, based on who is going to use them:
1. Medical Grade Pulse Oximeters
These are best suited for healthcare professionals in clinical settings: Surgeons, General Practitioners, Nurses, Respiratory Therapists and other Paramedics. They take high-end measurements, and they are much more expensive than the ones designed for broader, commercial use. They can only be bought from medical supply manufacturers.
2. Sports and Home Use Pulse Oximeters
These are for you and me, the woman and man next door. The degree of accuracy, lifespan and readout speed varies between manufacturers. They are sufficient for showing us if our current pulse rate, blood pressure and blood oxygen saturation are at a normal range. In case they are not, we should be alarmed and seek help from a medical professional. Pulse oximeters designed for home use come at an affordable price, and they are very easy to use. Just plug them on your finger and you are done.
However, the difference between these two cases is much more than the device itself: Clinicians use their vast knowledge and experience to check the pulse oximeter’s reading with a critical eye when treating a patient; the rest of us, on the other hand, sometimes, even when we feel that something is wrong with measurement, we can’t interpret the results, nor we can play the doctor. This is why home-based pulse oximetry is just a useful indicator. It can’t, and it shouldn’t replace our doctor’s advice.
What is a Normal Range of Blood Oxygen saturation?
There are some general indexes published by experts to help the public have an average means to check when they are about to exceed their physical limits. But again, they are only indicative. So, we ask you to take it with a grain of salt, for only your doctor knows your unique health profile and what you should or shouldn’t do.
Therefore, an average adult tends to present a standard heart rate of 60-100 beats/min and an oxygen saturation level of 95-100%. Our age also plays a role. As a rule of thumb, one should start worrying about it, only when it drops below 90% and so, a hypoxia crisis begins, and supplemental oxygen is needed.
For a more detailed view of your personal health profile, please contact a PG you trust and you’ll have all the answers you need.
How to Use a Finger Pulse Oximeter Correctly?
As with all medical devices, the way we use a finger pulse oximeter can make a significant difference between the right measurement or a false alarm. So, to be sure, you'd better have in mind the following:
- Nail polish could stop the light sensor from detecting your oxygen levels correctly.
- Strong sunlight and other light sources can affect the readings, so make sure you measure your vital signs in a room with normal or low light conditions.
- Don't move during the reading. Chills, sneezing, walking and even talking can give you wrong results.
- Don’t use it on newborns and babies. Finger pulse oximeters are designed for adults and children, with a recommended thickness of 8mm to 25.4mm. For more age-specific readings, seek for a device tailor-made for this particular occasion.
- Don’t take any medical decision based on a home blood oxygen reading; you better contact a licensed healthcare professional and pass through the information you got. They will be the ones to give you further advice.
Which Finger Should I Use When Using a Pulse Oximeter?
You can get proper testing using your ring finger, middle finger, and index finger; however, some oximeters rely upon your thumb to make their measurements.
Again, don’t lose yourself in information: Check with your doctor which solution suits you better. Also, make sure you take a reading from a finger which is active; coldness and numbness can affect your results.
Is It Safe to Use your Fitness Tracker or Smartwatch as a Pulse Oximeter?
Some fitness trackers and smartwatches have a SpO2 sensor to measure your heart rate and blood oxygen saturation. Still, they are not designed for medical use, but for your leisure time activities, only. The majority of them are not accurate, or they need a repeated measurement to show your real results. So, unfortunately, they are not as reliable as the fingertip pulse oximeter. Again, movement plays a role here, as we use these devices on the go. Should you feel alarmed by some smartphone readings, though, contact your doctor and mention what you see. They will guide you on what further steps you should take.
Pulse Oximeters: Your Health Lies on Your Fingertips!
Pulse oximeters may look trivial at first glance, but they can save our day! Designed to measure the oxygen saturation level in our blood and our heart pulse, they are suitable for people who like to test their limits outdoors quite often. But they are also useful for people whose limits have already been tested, and now they feel the need to recover fully. Healthy boundaries should be our priority, after all. And there's nothing trivial about it.
Our fingertip pulse oximeter relies on our body’s wisdom to detect any abnormalities and help us maintain a balanced way of life.
Brilliant bodies need intelligent machines, after all!