Oximetry involves the measuring of oxygen saturation in the human blood using a clip-like device attached to the finger or ear lobe. This is an essential procedure in monitoring people with conditions such as anemia, lung cancer, or heart-related diseases.
Using an Oximeter Correctly
To ensure the most accurate pulse oximeter readings, the device should be fitted well on the finger or ear lobe.
Position the finger to fit in the probe correctly. The probe should not be too tight as it may hinder circulation or too loose to fall off. For small children, you should consider the pediatric probes.
How to Read an Oximeter?
Follow the procedure below on how to read an oximeter:
1. Attach the device to a finger or ear lobe using a probe; most of the oximeters come with finger probes. It is advisable to remove any nail polish if you are attaching the oximeter to a finger. Also, avoid movent when taking readings as it may affect the final results. The process is painless, but the individual may experience some pressure.
2. When the oximeter is attached to the ear lobe or finger, beams of light measure the levels of oxygen by passing through the blood of the organ and monitoring the changes in light in blood.
3. Take out the oximeter once the procedure is complete, and the device will display the results.
Normal Oxygen Saturation Readings
For healthy patients, the oximeter gives a reading of between 96%- 99%. However, any reading above 89% is still considered okay.
Patients that show reading below 89% may need urgent oxygen supplementation, while levels below 85% are dangerous and need immediate attention.
Besides determining the oxygen saturation, an oximeter can help you identify the pulse rate. Often, the reading for pulse rate ranges between 60- 75 BPM for adults and may be higher up to 115 among children.
Depending on the brand, the oximeter may show a series of other measurements besides pulse and oxygen saturation. These include;
- ECG – for monitoring the heart’s activity
- Plethysomogram- measures the amount of oxygen in blood per pulse
Factors That Affect Normal Oximeter Readings
While using an oximeter, its accuracy may be affected by a few factors. They include;
1. Carbon Monoxide
The presence of carbon monoxide in the blood may affect the accuracy of the readings. This is because carbon monoxide attaches to the hemoglobin, making it difficult for the device to distinguish between carbon monoxide and oxygen.
It, therefore, is ineffective for people who smoke cigarette.
2. Low Blood Volume
Deficiency in the blood volume affects its flow and makes it difficult for the sensors to pick up the saturation levels due to low oxygen capacity.
The device may not give accurate readings for people suffering from hypothermia and hypotension.
3. External Light
When using an oximeter, it is important to shield the sensors from external light.
4. Skin Pigmentation
Dark skin may affect the accuracy of the oximeter; therefore, find a spot where the skin is lighter.
Also, avoid taking measurements when your hands are dyed, or fingers have nail polish. The coloring may absorb light from the oximeter, thus blocking the signal. Therefore, it interferes with the identification of oxygenated blood.
5. Body Movement
When there are movements, the oximeter makes irregular waveforms, therefore giving inaccurate results. That’s why for excellent and accurate results, you should consider buying high-quality oximeters.
One needs to know how to read an oximeter to make an objective conclusion. People who observe readings below or above normal should seek immediate medical attention. For the most accurate oximeter reading, avoid bright light and skin coloring. Cigarette smokers and people who have less oxygen activity may not get accurate results.
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