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How To Use A Pulse Oximeter Correctly

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An oximeter is a small device that measures the level of oxygen in your blood. Some of the models sold in the market also measure your heart rate (pulse). This device is usually placed on the tip of your finger and you’ve probably seen it on TV if you watch series like ER or House MD. Measuring oxygen and pulse helps monitor the health of patients with conditions that could impact blood oxygen. However, this device can be used at home as well.

5-Minute Crafts shows you how to use a finger oximeter correctly, so that you can keep it in mind if you ever find yourself in a situation where you need it.

How to use a finger oximeter correctly

1. Start by cleaning the oximeter

Before using the oximeter, it’s important to clean it with a bit of alcohol and rub it with a clean soft cloth to remove any traces of dust from the sensor and its interior.

2. Clean your hands and nails

Before putting on the oximeter, you will have to sanitize your hands thoroughly. That also means that If you’re wearing nail polish you’ll have to remove it before moving onto the next step. Keep in mind that nail polish could interfere with the correct measurement of the device.

3. Maintain your posture

It’s highly recommended that you remain still for at least a few minutes before actually taking the measurement. Just relax and maintain a comfortable position that allows the oximeter to be as accurate as possible. These devices become extremely inaccurate with any motion of the fingers, so avoid making any sudden movements. A good practice is to leave them resting on a surface, like a table.

4. Place the oximeter on your fingertip

Grab your oximeter and carefully place it on the tip of the index finger on your left hand. If possible, it’s better to do that with the display facing up, to make it easier to record the measurements. While some devices have an on/off button, others will switch on automatically upon contact with your finger. Wait a few seconds until the display shows the results.

5. Record the results

Devices that measure pulse rate and blood oxygen levels show 2 values on the screen. It’s important to take note of both, as well as the exact date and time of each measurement. If in doubt, always ask your general practitioner for advice.

Bonus: Your body temperature can alter the oximeter measurements.

According to a study, the temperature of your hands when measuring blood oxygen can alter the results if using an oximeter. If your hand is too cold, oxygen levels measured tend to decrease, while in a hand that is too hot, they tend to increase. Therefore, before placing the oximeter on your finger, it’s important to make sure that your hand is at a relatively normal temperature.

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