What is Pulse Oximeter? Reading, Uses, and How does it Work?

Imagine; monitoring a patient's health using a finger pulse oximeter, getting alert about blood oxygenation level through a SpO2 sensor, making clinical decisions from the patient's data, and then advising the patient accordingly by phone, email, or WhatsApp. Due to coronavirus, when the entire world is in a biological war-like situation, hospitals are flooded with thousands of patients, saving and protecting the life of patients, along with frontline healthcare warriors like nurses, doctors, and caregivers is crucial. If healthcare professionals will survive and stay healthy, only then will they help serve the nation and its people.

So, under these circumstances, the use of novel technologies and medical equipment like IR thermometers, standing temperature check stations, pulse oximeters, and PPE kits can provide reasonable precautions to healthcare workers when it comes to minimizing the 'patient-contact' without compromising the quality of healthcare. In this post, we are explaining what Pulse Oximeter is, uses, and how it works.    

What is Pulse Oximeter

It is a tiny, lightweight, stapler-like device that helps you know blood oxygen levels, blood pressure, and heart rate within seconds. Broadly, there are three types of Oximeters- a portable fingertip pulse oximeter, handheld pulse oximeter, and wrist oximeter. This device is beneficial in detecting silent hypoxia- a loss of oxygen level in the blood, even though the patient looks alert and fine. That's why Oximeters become crucial in monitoring the oxygen levels, also if the patient is feeling breathlessness. If the oxygen level drops, it may affect the other vital organs of the body. Though doctors and healthcare professionals mainly use these digital devices, one can also keep these at home to monitor his blood oxidation level.

How does it Work

Suitable for use in inpatient and outpatient settings, this clip-like device and can be placed on your finger, earlobe, or toe. During this painless process, the user will feel a small amount of pressure. Small beams of light will pass through the blood in the fingers, measuring the amount of oxygen.


Calculating the oxygen level of your and your family is very easy with this device. Put the batteries inside the Pulse Oximeter; now the device is ready to use. Insert one of your fingers, in case you are using a finger pulse oximeter. Wait for a few more seconds! The display of Pulse Oximeter will show the SpO2 (oxygen saturation levels) and heart rate.

Getting the Reading

Once the reading is displayed, the device can be removed from the finger. Typically, the Oximeter provides accurate results. However, there might be a difference of 2-per cent, either way, of what it is. Suppose the reading is 90, then your true SpO2 could be between 88 to 92. Movement of the body can affect the results; you need to stay still for at least 30 seconds to get accurate results.

Care and Precautions

-Always consult your doctor before and after using Pulse Oximeter.

-Inaccurate reading can be caused by too much use, poor blood circulation, too much external light at the reading site.

-To get an accurate reading, the individual should be resting, no physical movement.

-Nail polish and Henna pigmentation affect the interpretation of the Oximeter.

- Clean the device after every use. It can be mopped with a wet cloth or alcohol swab.

Take Away

Pulse Oximeter is a fast, accurate, noninvasive, and entirely painless test. It comes with no side-effects, or potential risks, except some skin irritation from the sticky material used in some devices.