Blood Pulse Oximeters – How Do They Work and How Do I Use One?


Growing in popularity since the outbreak of COVID 19, many individuals are using blood pulse oximeters to help monitor their personal health in a challenging environment. But with so many options on the market and little information available, it can be difficult to know how to proceed with picking one up.

So how does a blood pulse oximeter work and how can they potentially help when it comes to tackling the pandemic.

What is a Blood Pulse Oximeter?

Designed to measure the level of oxygen saturation in an individual’s blood, blood oximeters are used in hospitals to provide a regular readout on a patient’s vitals. This allows for the accumulation of data that can be used as part of the ongoing diagnosis, a warning if their levels drop, or other condition-specific needs.

Normally part of a bedside unit, modern technology has allowed for the tools to be miniaturized and freely available to the public. This has seen individuals pick them up during COVID 19 and monitor their personal health during the crisis, with many patients being given oximeters to track their recovery and many of those infected suffering from drops in their oxygen levels.

How do I use one?

Thankfully, modern blood pulse oximeters are simple pieces of kit to use and can give an accurate reading in an extremely short length of time. While devices may vary from maker to maker, their use-case will generally not vary extremely.

After unboxing the device and inserting the required batteries, it can be turned on by pressing the model’s designated power switch. This should auto-boot and be ready to receive a reading. When you are ready to measure your levels, you open the device by placing slight pressure on the ends of the ‘clip’ and placing a finger or toe into the model, letting them slowly close to holding the affected area.

Once secured, the device will shine a light on your skin and measure the change in light absorption to a high degree of accuracy. Once a reading is made, the device will display your saturation level on the surface of the device along with other key vitals that the model can track for such as pulse rate or perspiration.

After the reading is complete, it can be removed and turned off. Or if you are concerned about ongoing care, you can leave the device on the digital and check as required.

Should I pick one up? 

While medical research has yet to confirm a concrete link between COVID 19 affection and blood oxygen saturation, picking up a device is a quick and cost-effective way to measure your health – particularly if you are concerned about underlying conditions or if you are potentially vulnerable to the virus.

If you are picking one up, it is worth taking the time to check where your device is being sourced from and who provided it. While online stores like Amazon and eBay are full of models, it is worth contacting some suppliers such as Sensoronics or other market leaders directly to ensure that the device you are using is fit for purpose, robust, and reliable.

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