Pulse oximeter, as the name might suggest, is an instrument that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. A test involving an oximeter is known as oximetry, and it is a highly valued medical test.
This device is quite handy, and it is in a person’s best interest to familiarize him or herself with this device so they can perform a rudimentary check-up.
Fortunately, the pulse oximeter is by no means a difficult instrument to operate, and this article will teach you how to use a pulse oximeter.
Purpose of a Pulse Oximeter
A pulse oximeter, as stated above, is primarily used to measure oxygen levels in a person’s blood. This allows the user to gauge how well the heart is pumping oxygen to various parts of the body.
As a result, a pulse oximeter is widely used to monitor patients with both coronary diseases as well as lung problems such as asthma and pneumonia.
However, aside from monitoring, a prime use of a pulse oximeter is for surgeons applying anesthesia to a patient. It serves as an early warning for patients and allows detection of hypoxia (deprivation of adequate oxygen) during anesthesia. This is very important to ensure the safe application of anesthesia.
Pulse Oximeter Parts
Generally, a good pulse oximeter consists of two parts. These two parts are explained in details below:
This is the display of the oximeter and is used to show the battery life and the two main measurements, which are the oxygen saturation of blood and pulse rate. Some oximeters have a display that shows the heart rate via a waveform similar to ECG machines.
The oxygen saturation of hemoglobin is denoted by SpO2, accompanied by a percentage sign. Some oximeters come with audio cues to indicate either falling or increasing oxygen saturation. The pulse rate is measured in beats per minute.
Most oximeters take the pulse rate reading as an average over a time period of 20 seconds.
This is the part of the oximeter that performs the measurement. The probe itself consists of two parts, namely the LED (Light Emitting Diode) and the light detector. And the LED emits beams of light that are later detected by the light detector.
When close to each other, the detector will receive virtually all the light that is emitted by the LED. However, when an object comes in between the two parts, some of the light is absorbed depending on the object and its properties.
In the case of an oximeter, the object that is placed between the LED and detector is a finger where the pulse can be detected. The light absorbed depends on the concentration of oxygen in the blood, and this allows the oximeter to measure blood saturation. There are some different types of probes.
The main difference is in their design, with some probes designed to work by being placed on the toe or ear lobe instead of the finger. Ear probes are mostly used for children as they are less heavy and allows for more accurate measurements in this case.
General Procedure for Using an Oximeter
Once you have familiarized yourself with the oximeter, it is time to learn the general procedure of using it. The procedure consists of some simple steps, as listed below.
Step 1: Turn the Oximeter on
It will proceed to auto-calibrate itself, and this might take a minute or two. Once calibrations are done, proceed to the next step.
Check out the oximeter battery health condition. If it is off for a few months, check the battery units. They usually use AAA batteries, so if they are unusable, you will have to change them.
Step 2: Adjust the Settings as You Deem Necessary
The most important setting is the alarms and volumes, which include pitch settings for the saturation level and heart rate.
If the probe is not connected, carefully connect it, and then check for the glowing red light. This will denote that the probe is working. Perform a test using the probe to see if it gives a proper reading or not. If it does not, replace it.
Step 3: Adjust Your Probe Correctly
Once you have made sure the probe match with the area you’ll be taking readings from, dust it off. Make sure there is no nail polish or anything that might impede with readings.
Proceed to fit the probe onto the desired part. Make sure that it is neither too tight nor too loose. Either case will give you inaccurate readings.
Wait a few seconds for the oximeter to start detecting a pulse. Do not take the first few readings and make sure the probe is still during the whole process.
Step 4: If It Cannot Find a Pulse, Try a Different Area
Once you have found a pulse, the readings will be displayed on the monitor. Make another check to see if the results being shown are as intended. The oximeter is set, and you can now proceed with your work.
A normal blood saturation concentration is usually from 95% to 100%. For adults, the normal heart rate is from 60 to 100 bpm, while children will generally have from 70 to 100 bpm. Results that vary from these usually indicate an issue or cause of alarm.
As you can see, the oximeter is an easy tool to use but a very effective one nonetheless. Remember to test it thoroughly before using it to make sure the results are reliable.