Pulse Oximeters: How and When They Work
Published on Tuesday 07 February, 2023
Pulse oximeters are devices used to measure the saturation of oxygen in a person's blood. They work by shining a light through the finger and measuring the amount of light absorbed, which provides information about the oxygen saturation in the blood.
How They Work:
- A pulse oximeter consists of two main parts: a probe that attaches to a finger, and a monitor that displays the results.
- The probe emits two wavelengths of light: one that is absorbed by hemoglobin when it's carrying oxygen, and one that is absorbed by hemoglobin when it's not carrying oxygen.
- The monitor calculates the ratio of light absorbed by the two wavelengths and uses that information to determine the oxygen saturation in the blood.
When to Use Them:
- People with breathing problems, such as sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or asthma, may use a pulse oximeter to monitor their oxygen levels.
- Pulse oximeters are also commonly used in hospitals and medical settings to monitor the oxygen levels of patients who are critically ill or undergoing surgery.
- Healthy individuals may use pulse oximeters to monitor their oxygen levels during physical activity, especially at high altitudes.
It's important to note that a pulse oximeter is not a substitute for a medical evaluation or treatment. If you have concerns about your oxygen levels or breathing, you should consult a doctor.