Mountaineers have been using pulse oximeters at all high-altitude treks and measuring the Oxygen saturation of the trekkers.
What is Pulse Oximeter?
It is a device used to measure the oxygen saturation of the person. It can measure the level of oxygen in the person’s blood without any penetration in the skin or anything similar. Just tapping your finger for a few seconds does the trick. Also, with the measure of oxygen in the blood, it measures your heart rate.
The blood flows to and fro from the heart to the tissues and cells of the body.
The heart enriches the blood with oxygen every time it returns and the tissues and cells absorb it and use the oxygen to perform their function.
How does a Pulse Oximeter work?
The Pulse Oximeter is in the shape of a clip.
One side of the clip throws a beam of light through your finger and the other part of the clip absorbs it.
The difference in the light beam oxygenated and deoxygenated blood are measured and reading is provided by the oximeter.
This is written in a simple manner to be understood. Otherwise, all these terms light wavelength, circuit, diode, etc will make it very difficult to understand.
What does a pulse oximeter measure?
As already mentioned, Pulse oximeter measures:
- Oxygen Saturation
- Heart rate.
By Oxygen Saturation, we mean it measures the oxygen in the blood flowing in your body. This reading is also known as SpO2.
How does an oximeter work?
The two surfaces of the clips of the oximeter can measure your oxygen saturation by inserting your finger, toe, or even your ear-lobe.
Before the oximeter, invasive techniques like drawing your blood, etc were used.
What are the risks of using an oximeter?
The device doesn’t have any effect on you. The only concern is that it is working properly.
What are the normal readings of the oximeter?
The normal readings of the oximeter are:
- Oxygen Saturation(SpO2): 90 to 100.
- Heart rate: 60 to 100 beats per minute.
At our high altitude treks, we measure the oxygen saturation every day. People coming from low altitudes near the sea level take time to adapt to the high altitude. And therefore we include proper meals and itinerary so that their body continues to acclimatize while gaining altitude.
While the trek goes on and we keep gaining altitude, we monitor the SpO2. If in a particular trekker, the oxygen saturation continues to decrease, we descend the person and advise him not to exhaust his body.
The same problem is being faced by the people infected with the coronavirus. The infection results in breathing issues and the person has to be given oxygen artificially through a respirator or a ventilator.
So, what the doctors in many cities are doing, is providing the patients with an oximeter. And while staying at home-isolation, the patients need to keep a check of their oxygen saturation. Once the oxygen saturation level goes below the normal reading, the patients are provided with external oxygen supply
How do you know if you have a lack of oxygen?
If the SpO2 or oxygen saturation is not measured regularly, the lack of oxygen results in:
- rapid breathing.
- chest pain.
- high blood pressure.
- These symptoms further result in severe Pulmonary diseases like HAPE and HACE.
In the case of the corona, a patient's lack of oxygen has severe consequences.