How Useful Is A Pulse Oximeter In Detecting Coronavirus Risks?
With variants of COVID-19 causing numerous symptoms, from high fevers and body aches to loss of taste and smell, one symptom the virus was most known for was severe respiratory distress. When our respiratory systems are disrupted, so is our body's oxygen intake. Could pulse oximeters like the LOOKEE® Fingertip Pulse Oximeters prove to effectively detect these symptoms and alert patients in need of medical assistance?
Primary Uses of Pulse Oximeters
Also known as blood oxygen monitors, these small devices make use of probes with light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to measure the oxygen saturation of the blood, i.e., a patient's SpO2 levels. It is vital that blood oxygen levels be monitored regularly, especially throughout lung complications, as they can cause serious health issues if they drop below normal rates.
The American Thoracic Society states that more than 89 percent of the blood should be well oxygenated. Healthy SpO2 levels are between 95 to 100 percent. Pulse oximeters can alert individuals when these drop below 89 percent, which could be a sign of a possible health condition requiring medical attention. Hence, Spo2 oximeters have been used in hospitals to monitor patients suffering from conditions and illnesses that lower their blood oxygen levels.
Aside from measuring these stats, medical professionals have used pulse oximetry to assist with assessing the effectiveness of ventilators and lung medication, determining whether a patient is in need of supplemental oxygen therapy, and monitoring breathing patterns in individuals with sleep apnea.
Health risks caused by COVID-19
A large majority of patients who were admitted into hospitals due to COVID-19 were as a result of breathing difficulties and lung complications. The lungs are the organs most affected by the virus because it is a respiratory disease. It is contracted the same way a regular flu is, via oral ingestion or if it comes into contact with mucous membranes within the nose and eyes. Once the virus infects the respiratory tract, it can cause mild to severe health risks.
COVID-19 can cause fevers, coughing, and a sore throat in mild cases. Some individuals may not even experience any symptoms. In moderate cases, it can affect both lungs, causing inflammation, breathing difficulties and pneumonia. A severe COVID-19 infection can damage the lining of the alveoli within the lungs resulting in severe pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). This can lead to a patient being placed on a ventilator to assist with breathing.
A study published by Boston University focused on how patients infected with the coronavirus can develop silent hypoxia, a condition whereby blood oxygen levels become extremely low. When left undetected for long periods, it can cause severe damage to vital organs.
The study found that COVID-19 can cause silent hypoxia due to three reasons. Firstly, if the patient experiences a high blood flow to the lungs, which aren't functioning normally, this can result in low oxygen levels throughout the entire body. Secondly, when blood clotting occurs as a result of inflammation in the lungs, it can incite silent hypoxia. Lastly, when the coronavirus interferes with the normal air-to-blood flow that allows the lungs to function as normal, it can also affect the body’s blood oxygen levels.
Can A Pulse Oximeter Detect Coronavirus Risks?
Pulse oximetry was particularly useful in monitoring COVID patients because severe respiratory diseases inhibit oxygen intake and thus lower their Sp02 levels.
Once the lungs become inflamed due to an infection of the respiratory tract, the air sacs (alveoli) present struggle to fill with air and perform their normal functions. Hence, the blood being perfused through the lungs will not receive sufficient oxygen.
It can be said that if the coronavirus causes breathing difficulties that lead to abnormal blood oxygen levels, a pulse oximeter will be helpful in detecting these symptoms.
How To Use A Pulse Oximeter To Check Your Spo2
- Remove any jewelry or nail polish from your index or middle finger.
- Make sure that the hand being used to measure is relaxed, warm, and at a position below the heart.
- Clip one of LOOKEE® Tech's finger pulse oximeters onto your finger.
- After a few seconds, the device will display your current oxygen saturation level and your heart rate.
- Remove the oxygen pulse monitor once the test is over.
What Does COVID-19 Do to Your Lungs?: https://www.webmd.com/lung/what-does-covid-do-to-your-lungs#1
COVID-19 Lung Damage: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/what-coronavirus-does-to-the-lungs#:~:text=What%20does%20COVID%20do%20to,the%20lungs%20and%20other%20organs.
Three Reasons Why COVID-19 Can Cause Silent Hypoxia: https://www.bu.edu/articles/2020/3-reasons-why-covid-19-can-cause-silent-hypoxia/
Pulse Oximeter Accuracy and Limitations: FDA Safety Communication: https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/safety-communications/pulse-oximeter-accuracy-and-limitations-fda-safety-communication
COVID-19 May Cause Dangerously Low Oxygen Levels With Few Other Symptoms: https://www.verywellhealth.com/covid-19-happy-hypoxia-oxygen-levels-5090027