Pulse Oximeter Can Be Life-Saving During COVID 19
Before we turn our attention to pulse oximeters, let us learn how the coronavirus evolved during 2020 and how the new variants have caused an increase in demand for such devices.
The coronavirus pandemic has become one of our greatest challenges since its outbreak in early 2020. Originating in Wuhan, China, it quickly spread throughout several countries of the world. The United States, Brazil, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France have become some of the worst-hit countries during the early periods of the outbreak. Most of the countries of the world underwent a national lockdown. After several months of lockdown, pressure to reopen the economy was great and restrictions were slowly lifted. Mass vaccination campaigns have decreased the spread to a great extent.
However, new variants appeared from the UK, Brazil, and India during the first couple of months of 2021. The Indian variant is more likely to spread than other variants and can affect people of all ages. In India, the total positive cases reached up to more than 400,000 per day resulting in thousands of deaths. Due to free movement across borders, the virus has spread to many of the neighbouring countries of India.
During normal times, the pulse oximeter was used in emergency settings for patients with conditions like COPD, lung cancer, pneumonia, heart attack, etc. In the wake of the pandemic, this device has been far too common among COVID patients. This is because there is a huge struggle to get hospital beds let alone ICUs and ventilators. Therefore, people isolating in homes are continuously using it to monitor their oxygen levels so that lung infections can be detected and prevented early on.
Pulse Oximeters: Definition and Working
A pulse oximeter is a small medical device that you can use to measure the levels of oxygen in the blood, or the oxygen saturation level. Typically, the subject clips the device on the fingertips or the ear lobes.
The working principle of pulse oximeter bases upon the absorption of light by blood, whether it be oxygenated or deoxygenated. It consists of two Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), one transmitting infrared light and the other transmitting red light. It is seen that for oxygenated blood, there is more absorption of infrared light whereas the red light passes through. For deoxygenated blood, the reverse is seen. A photodiode receives the light that is allowed to pass through the body part, that is the finger or the ear lobe. The processor in the pulse oximeter then measures the ratio of measured red light to infrared right. We can then convert this ratio into SpO2 level which is displayed on the pulse oximeter screen.
Pulse Oximeters: How To Use It
The knowledge of how to use a pulse oximeter is extremely important because if the readings are wrong, it can create unnecessary panic. On the other hand, it can also turn out to be fatal for unsuspecting patients.
The first thing that you should keep in mind while using a pulse oximeter is its positioning. Most oximeters come with a finger probe whereas those with ear probes are also not rare. The probe is designed in such a way that light can pass through the finger and be detected by a light-sensitive sensor on the other side. Make sure that the finger fits well and is not too tight or too loose. When the probe is too tight, it may disrupt blood circulation whereas when it is too loose, it may fall or let the surrounding light inside. Furthermore, if you are using an ear probe, make sure that circulation is right by gently rubbing the ear lobe. This is because the ear lobe is more sensitive to cold and might show a wrong reading.
Pulse Oximeters: Key Considerations
We have already discussed why wrong readings from a pulse oximeter can be deadly and how it can cause unnecessary panic. Therefore, there are some major things that you should consider during measurement. They are discussed in the following section.
Avoid Nail Polish
The nail polish can significantly absorb the light coming from the pulse oximeter and mislead you to a wrong reading. Therefore, it is necessary that you remove the polish before measurement. If it is an emergency situation, place it on the sideways of the finger.
Avoid Bright Light
The pulse oximeter consists of a light-sensitive sensor called the photodiode which measures the red and infrared light emitted by transmitters. Sunlight and other bright lights in the measurement room, when incident on the photoreceivers, can interfere and produce an inaccurate reading.
The movement of the patient is also a crucial factor that can lead to an inaccurate reading by the pulse oximeter. If the patient is shaking or shivering, wait until they are steady.
Keep the Battery Fully Charged
The power of the transmitted light will eventually depend on the charge of the battery. If the battery is not on a full charge, it might not be able to transmit a standard amount of power. This will ultimately lead to a wrong reading.
Watch the Readings Carefully
If you are suspecting of COVID symptoms, it is extremely important that you monitor the readings from time to time. The normal SpO2 level lies between 95% to 99%. If the reading falls below 94%, consult a medical professional immediately.
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In this blog, we have come across the reasons for the increasing demand for pulse oximeter during COVID-19. Likewise, we understood the definition and the working principle of this genius device. We also talked about the procedures that COVID patients should follow while measuring the oxygen saturation in the blood. Finally, we talked about the key things that we should consider for proper measurement so that we can avoid panic and fatalities.
Top World Business is a one-stop place for all the technology-related news from every corner of the globe. Our aim is to keep you updated on recent and future tech trends so you can use them to your advantage. Contact us if you have any further queries.