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What is a Pulse Oximeter and should I buy it?

Updated: Dec 15, 2020

I am not a physician. Just a slightly paranoid person.

Indulge me as I share this COVID-19 anxiety-reducing device with you.

But first, this story.

Around Thanksgiving, I caught a cold, and I am still suffering from a tiny cough. I had no fever, body aches, loss of smell or any other COVID symptoms. I did not get tested but I also have not stepped out of home since then and I very much doubt I have the virus. I have continued to teach online, (sexy deep voice and all!) and I have a spoon of cough syrup before I go to bed. I am 90% fine.

That said, I needed to track one important thing - Shortness of breath, which is a COVID-19 symptom and generally harder to monitor. But how does one self-assess that symptom at home?

Enter.....The Pulse Oximeter.

What is a pulse oximeter?

A pulse oximeter monitors your heart rate and oxygen saturation level in your red blood cells. People with serious lung disease usually have it lying around in their homes, but this little electronic device is pretty much no use for healthy folks.

Ok, slight correction. I know of serious athletes that use oximeters for performance training. They use it to gauge recovery for high-intensity workouts or for altitude acclimatization.

Read this article to learn more about how the pulse oximeter is used in sports.

I am not an athlete and I don't think I will ever be. In any case, the point I am trying to make is that with the coronovirus pandemic, regular people like you and me are starting to buy the pulse oximeter.

There are many varieties out there as you can see in this Amazon link. Like I have mentioned before, I am not a medical doctor but I bought mine based off the reviews and the price. I have used it a few times this week, and it has worked just fine.

The tiny device basically clips on your finger and in a few seconds, indicates if you need to be concerned if you are sick, have a terrible cough or have COVID.

The device is not invasive and they cause no pain at all. Small beams of light pass through the blood in the finger, and that's how the device measures oxygen levels. It is that simple.

The device is a good way to detect 'hypoxia', a deficiency in oxygen reaching tissues in the body.

According to Yale Medicine: "If you do have a pulse oximeter and are checking your oxygen levels, it’s important to know that a level between 95 and 97% is considered normal by the American Lung Association; anything below that would be a reason to call a doctor, and anything under 90% would be a reason to go to the emergency room."

I wish I would have bought it earlier so that I could establish what was baseline was, but nevertheless, I am glad I bought it now. If nothing else, it provides me with some peace of mind.


Dear Reader: Call your doctor if you have symptoms. Get a test. Go to the emergency room. I am not a physician and I only share things that help my anxiety, or things I do at home to stay safe and healthy. I do not share medical advice!

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