Wednesday, August 4

Blood oxygen saturation: what it is and how to measure it at home


Since the appearance of COVID-19, there are many things that have begun to worry us: closed spaces, the misuse of masks … or the level of oxygen saturation in the blood. A variable that, although it was previously taken into account when going to the doctor, most of us did not monitor.

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Currently, it is a variable that is very taken into account, especially if we believe that we may be passing the coronavirus. But what exactly is blood oxygen saturation? Can I measure it from home?

In ConsumptionClear we solve these, and others, questions about this concept.

What is blood oxygen saturation?

Oxygen saturation is the measurement that indicates the how much is in our blood of this item compared to the one you could carry. That is, when it is observed that we have a level of 95% of SpO², it means that the percentage of oxygen that is in the hemoglobin compared to the total that it could carry (95% oxygenated hemoglobin and 5% without oxygen).

It is, then, an indicator of how well oxygen is being distributed from the lungs to the cells and, therefore, to the rest of the organs. This value may change throughout the day, since it depends on the activities we are doing and is not worrisome. as long as it is within the usual range.

What is the usual SpO² range?

Typically, the level of oxygen saturation in the blood is between 95% and 100%. When the level falls below 90%, you may be suffering from hypoxemia, which is simply the name for this event. There may be other reasons, such as an anxiety attack.

Are there symptoms that indicate a low blood oxygen level?

When our SpO² It is not at normal levels, there are different symptoms that may indicate that we should see a doctor:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Tachycardia: an unusual increase in heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Hyperventilation: rapid breathing, without completing the cycles of inspiration and expiration
  • Cyanosis: the skin is bluish in color due to lack of oxygen in the blood
  • Confusion
  • Headache or chest pain

How can we measure this value ourselves?

The pulse oximeter or pulse oximeter is the specific device that measures oxygen saturation in blood. Normally, this instrument is shaped like a clip or forceps and is placed on a finger (of the foot or of the hand) or even on the earlobe.

Why in these areas? Because they are parts of the body partially translucent (that let in the light). This is important since the pulse oximeter emits bursts of light of different frequencies to record how much the blood absorbs: oxygenated blood (oxygenated hemoglobin) captures infrared radiation, however deoxygenated blood, red light.

In this way, the device has both red and infrared LEDs on one side, while on the other there is a photodiode that receives the beams of light that have not been absorbed by blood.

If you are interested in getting a pulse oximeter, we recommend the following models:

Viatom Oxysmart

For 29.99 euros, the Oxysmart from Viatom is a very complete pulse oximeter that, in addition, allows us to save the record of our results on the mobile, since it has its own app for both iOS and Android and connects via Bluetooth.

It has an OLED screen to observe the levels directly from the device and it has an internal memory that groups the last 12 measurements of both SpO² and pulsations. The biggest drawback is that it works with two AAA batteries -which are included-.

AGPTEK Oximeter

For 21.99 euros, this oximeter represents a saving compared to the previous model, especially for those who are not interested in having it connected to the mobile. The AGPTEK pulse oximeter is a simple but reliable device that measures both SpO² and pulsations.

Its LED screen is especially large and shows the values ​​using a large part of the panel, making it especially useful for the elderly or those with vision problems. In addition, it has an alarm that is activated when it detects irregular heartbeats or low levels of SpO².

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