Blood Oxygen and Pulse Oximeter are terms that prior to the pandemic very few of us were familiar with. Covid-19 has changed that. Read on, and find out why it pays to understand the value of your saturated oxygen level (SpO2) and measure your blood oxygen.
What is Blood Oxygen?
Blood oxygen is the term used to describe the oxygen carried around the body by your red blood cells. Like many other processes, our bodies work hard to keep this in balance. This means maintaining the level close to 95-100%. This can vary from individual to individual and especially those who have chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma, heart disease or COPD, who may have a lower level.
In some people, Covid-19 has affected their lungs, their breathing, and in turn, resulted in low levels of Blood Oxygen. Unsurprisingly blood oxygen levels are an important indicator for monitoring these patients. As a consequence of the pandemic, the NHS has introduced a number of oximetry at home initiatives to monitor patients at risk of deterioration or who have been discharged from the hospital.
Why measure it?
Normal healthy adults do not need to measure their blood oxygen. However, as with many health indicators it is a good idea to know what is ‘normal’ for you. You will then be more familiar with the process of taking an accurate reading of your blood oxygen should you ever be concerned about your health, for example, feeling breathless.
Who should measure Blood Oxygen?
We believe it is a good idea for everyone over 18 to measure their Blood Oxygen and that of their loved ones (adults). This way you will be taking more interest and responsibility for your own health and well-being and those you care about or care for.
When should I measure my Blood Oxygen?
Measure your blood oxygen when you feel well. The measurement can be taken at any time of the day, but you should always make sure that you wash your hands in warm water beforehand. Nail varnish must be removed as it affects the reading. If you repeat the measurement 3 times you will be more likely to have confidence in your results as they should vary very little.
How do you measure Blood Oxygen?
Blood Oxygen is measured with a simple, non-invasive device, a Pulse Oximeter, into which you place your index or middle finger. We have prepared a simple 1-minute educational video and procedure to help you take accurate readings.
Where can I get a Pulse Oximeter?
Pulse Oximeters are readily available, relatively low cost, and sufficiently accurate. We have identified some here that you may be interested in taking a closer look at.
You can download and use the Me2GP app to store your readings. The app can also be used to share the readings with your GP if you need to by text or email.