Three best pulse oximeters
At-home health monitoring is becoming more and more accessible. With tools like personal pulse oximeters, health-conscious individuals can feel in charge of their own physical health and doctors can keep closer tabs on patients.
A pulse oximeter measures how much oxygen is in the blood. This measurement can provide health practitioners with valuable information about the state of your health. Pulse oximeters use a mixture of visible and infrared light to determine the oxygen saturation level in the blood. The process is quick, painless, and efficient. These devices are useful for monitoring conditions that decrease the amount of oxygen in the blood, such as asthma, heart conditions, respiratory illnesses, and certain cancers.
Using a pulse oximeter can help ascertain whether you're responding to new medications and evaluate your condition post-surgery. A pulse oximeter is also helpful in determining whether you're getting enough oxygen and in assessing your readiness for increased physical activity. Wearing one of these devices while you sleep can also help detect sleep apnea.
Considerations when choosing pulse oximeters
There are a few different styles of pulse oximeters available. Each device features a finger clamp, which takes a reading, but the placement of the screen varies. The display may be on the finger clamp, on a wrist strap, or standalone and wireless. Finger clamp screens are not the best option for those with vision issues because of their small size.
What to expect
A pulse oximeter is not designed to be used as a wearable fitness device. It's a medical device intended to monitor individuals who are dealing with ailments that require attention from a medical professional.
Pulse oximeters alert users when oxygen saturation levels drop below the normal range. False readings are possible and may occur if the device is not worn correctly. Holding your breath may also affect the accuracy of the device. If you're a healthy individual, it's unlikely that you need to use a pulse oximeter. Always consult with your doctor first. At-home devices are also not a substitute for visits to your physician. Listen to your body. If you experience symptoms that affect your breathing, seek help immediately regardless of what the screen on your pulse oximeter says.
Pulse oximeters with a history function save data, so you don't have to jot down your results each time. This is a useful feature to have if you are supposed to be recording results for your doctor.
Your doctor may also request that you monitor your heart rate in beats per minute. Some pulse oximeters are capable of measuring the wearer's pulse. It's a helpful feature for individuals monitoring their heart health.
Getting a correct reading
The normal blood oxygen saturation range is 95% to 100%. Dropping below 90% is considered abnormal. Remember that at-home readings may not be as accurate as those taken by a medical professional. Numerous environmental factors can affect readings. Your hands should be at room temperature. If they are too cold or too hot, the pulse oximeter may not be able to provide you with data. Dark nail polish and poor placement can also affect readings.
Q. Are pulse oximeters safe to use?
A. Absolutely. They are very safe devices. Incorrect readings are the most serious problem that may occur with a pulse oximeter.
Q. What do I do if I get a low reading?
A. Your physician will likely give you advice on what to do should you discover your blood oxygen saturation level is low. If you've been directed by your doctor to take regular readings, alert your doctor if there are any significant changes in your levels. A drastically different reading may be the result of improper placement, but pay attention to your immediate symptoms. If you are having trouble breathing, seek medical attention.
Pulse oximeters we recommend
Best of the best: TempIR Finger Pulse Oximeter
Our take: A well-made pulse oximeter designed to take quick, accurate readings.
What we like: You can hold this FDA-approved unit any which way to see your results. The lifetime guarantee is nice, too.
What we dislike: It's expensive.
Best bang for your buck: Zacurate Pro Series 500DL Fingertip Pulse Oximeter
Our take: This affordable pulse oximeter has a variety of features for monitoring physical health.
What we like: In addition to blood oxygen saturation levels, this oximeter also provides heart rate and pulse strength data.
What we dislike: There are some concerns about battery longevity.
Our take: This pulse oximeter is ideal for athletes or individuals curious about their health metrics.
What we like: It has a multi-directional display and gives quick results.
What we dislike: It's not a good choice for medical use.
Steph Coelho is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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