COVID-19 Tips: Oximeters, A Potential Home Tool To Monitor Progress Of COVID-19 Symptoms From Mild To Moderate And To Detect COVID-19 Pneumonia Early
: Many individuals around the world complaining that they are being turned away from public healthcare hospitals and even being denied the COVID-19 test. Despites governments everywhere claiming that there are enough test kits and that they encourage testing, the reality is far from that.
In some countries when patients insist that they suspect might have contracted the COVID-19 disease and are experiencing symptoms like sore throat, coughs or even mild fevers, if they are lucky they are given NSAIDs like paracetamol, if they not they are most likely sent home empty handed and told to come back only if symptoms gets worse!
Yes although a good percentage of about 67 percent of patients experiencing the mild symptoms usually get better by themselves, the rest might progress to moderate stages of the disease which is just as step away from being into severe or critical stages. The first signs of progressing into the moderate stage are usually breathing problems and a ‘seemingly’ lack of sufficient oxygen.
The monitoring of this progression is a bit difficult for common laymen and it is observed once a person progresses in the moderate stage, about 74 of these are like to move on to severe stages. By the time the breathing difficulties start to materialize, it is almost irreversible stage of progression to the moderate stage unless hospitalization and the right drugs are used immediately.
It has been observed that in many patients with severe cases of COVID-19 have extremely low levels of oxygen in the blood. Others who have tested positive often find themselves experiencing shortness of breath.
This is where cheap pulse oximeters could come in handy for individuals to monitor their own health levels and also for those using remote telemedicine platforms to also furnish their doctors with additional data parameters.
Pulse oximeters are sold cheap online on many ecommerce sites and also in many pharmacies and cost anything from US$18 to US$100.(do not buy any China made products as most are unreliable and lack proper regulatory certifications. Taiwan, Japan and South Korea have cheaper but reliable versions and the best off course are those from Australia, Canada, USA, Britain or Germany.)
Oximeters or pulse oximeters are they are called are medical devices that measure the saturation of oxygen in a person's red blood cells. They typically clip to your finger, though it can also be attached at the ear, forehead, nose or toes.
The medical device works by shining a light through the skin, which is then analyzed to determine how much oxygen is being carried in the blood.
Doctors and other medical professionals use pulse oximeters on patients experiencing shortness of breath or those who have a lung or heart conditions to determine if they're getting enough oxygen. Health care professionals routinely use them in hospitals and clinics when checking vital signs. Also pulse oximeters are occasionally used in home settings for people who have underlying health conditions
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In the COVID-19 crisis pulse oximeters could be used detect any form of oxygen deprivation even in patients who do not typically experience shortness of breath, despite low oxygen levels and pneumonia readings through chest X-rays.
Normal pulse oximeter readings are usually in the range of 95 to 100 percent. Values under 90 are considered low.
In the COVID-19 context, many medical experts consider patients to have severe COVID-19 if their oxygen levels drop below 94 percent.
Any oxygen level below 88% can be dangerous for any period of time. An oxygen level below 95% warrants an immediate trip to the hospital. Keep in mind that an oxygen level 82% and lower puts vital organs in danger.
The usage of pulse oximetry screening for COVID-19 pneumonia whether individuals check themselves on home devices or go to hospitals or doctors' clinics could provide an early warning system for the kinds of breathing problems associated with COVID-19 pneumonia.
However it should be noted that low oxygen levels are a relatively late indicator that an individual has COVID-19. Individuals who potentially have the illness will likely experience other symptoms, like fever, dry cough, body aches or fatigue that would prompt them to seek medical attention days before they noticed a drop in their blood oxygen levels.
It is however useful for those who are in the mild stages and wanting to observe their health stages and to prevent realizing that one has progressed into that stage too late.
However it also possible that individuals using pulse oximeters at home could see inaccurate readings. Things like nail polish, artificial nails, cold hands and poor circulation are all things that can interfere with the light used by the devices and result in false numbers.
The oximeters would also be useful for individuals who are already tested positive for COVID-19 and are recovering at home as a pulse oximeter could monitor whether they need oxygen or more supportive care.
However readers are warned about using mobile apps that claim that can measure oxygen levels. These are totally unreliable and can be dangerous if one is basing one’s health conditions on these readings.
The way pulse oximeters work is that they measure the light transmitted or reflected through the skin at two different wavelengths (usually red and infrared) to determine the level of oxygen saturation in the blood.
However mobile apps, which typically claim to measure oxygen saturation through the flash light and camera, cannot generate as accurate of readings because the camera cannot measure the light reflection at two wavelengths.
With public healthcare services over stressed at the moment and also with the next wave of pandemic expected to hit soon and even harder, its best that most individuals start investing in cheap medical devices and even stockpiling basic OTC drugs etc but always consulting a doctor even if its through online telemedicine platforms.
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