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A home pulse oximeter is an essential and reassuring tool for many patients who use supplemental oxygen. Not only will monitoring your oxygen saturation level at home provide your doctor with better insight as to the progression of your lung disease, but, with your doctor’s guidance, it will allow you to adjust your oxygen flow according to your activity level saving you time in hours spent at your doctor’s office.
The pulse oximeter is a noninvasive device that measures your oxygen saturation level, or how well the hemoglobin in your arterial blood is saturated with oxygen. The best part about an oximeter: it rapidly detects changes in oxygenation, providing patients and clinicians with an early warning of dangerously approaching or existing hypoxemia (low blood oxygen). A pulse oximeter complements – it does not replace – spirometry in the diagnosis and management of sudden and long-term respiratory illnesses.
Pulse oximeters for in-home use are small, battery-powered and easy to use. You simply attach it to your finger and your oxygen saturation level, as a percentage, will appear on the screen. Normal oxygen saturation levels run between 95% and 100%. A pulse oximeter also displays your heart rate. The normal resting heart rate for an adult is between 60 and 100.
Once you purchase a home pulse oximeter, take it to your next doctor’s appointment so she can provide you with more details on how to use it. Record your oxygen saturation levels on a chart, along with your daily activities, and show them to your doctor. Your doctor will give you a target oxygen saturation level that she would like you to maintain along with an oxygen flow rate that is likely to keep your oxygen saturation at this level. When your oxygen saturation falls below your target goal, your doctor will show you how to titrate your oxygen so that your oxygen saturation returns to the target rate. In general, your oxygen saturation should be greater than 90% during all activities.
Here are a few more tips for in-home use of getting pulse oximeter readings:
Author: Deborah Leader RN, BSN, PHN