What is a pulse oximeter, where you can buy it in Malaysia and everything you must be cognisant prior to making the purchase.
Most of us by now are fairly informed about the signs and invisible detriments of symptomatic and asymptomatic Covid-19 infections, and side effects of vaccines. The self-testing kit is a relatively inexpensive device and a swift way of finding out about one’s status – whether it is a clean bill of health or another more sophisticated test is needed for confirmation. What about patients who have contracted the SARS-CoV-2 virus and are under home quarantine due to their mild illnesses? How can they observe their health without an ever-present healthcare professional by their sides?
In Malaysia, the severity of Covid-19 cases can be broken down in 5 categories. 1 – asymptomatic; 2 – symptomatic, no pneumonia; 3 – symptomatic, pneumonia; 4 – symptomatic, pneumonia, requiring supplemental oxygen; and 5 – critically ill with multi-organ involvement.
In category 1 only the RT-PCR test is proven positive, while category 2 shows upper respiratory tract symptoms such as pharyngeal congestion, sore throat, cough or fever for a period less than 7 days. Given the fluidity of the disease, the condition of a patient may worsen from categories 2 to 3. All patients from categories 3 to 5 are to be hospitalised.
One way to monitor your own health at home is by tapping into pulse oximetry, a non-invasive method to keep track of the oxygen saturation (SpO2) level. The device is called a pulse oximeter. A normal oxygen saturation is usually 95% and above. Covid-19 is known to affect lungs’ functioning even if it is asymptotic. The infection can depress the oxygen level in your bloodstream. While you may feel a little tired, short of breath, discomfort and a racing pulse, you may also feel indifferent and this presents danger especially when the oxygen saturation continues to dip further.
A circular published by the Malaysian Ministry of Health states that a normal reading comprises an oxygen saturation of 96% and above, pulse rates between 40 and 100 beats per minute (bpm).
To persist with home observation, the reading stands at 95%, 101-109 bpm. Get advice from a healthcare practitioner when the oximeter indicates 93%-94%, 110-130 bpm. Call for immediate assistance if it slips to 92% and below, 131 bpm and above.
The pulse oximeter is easy to use – placing the tip of your finger on the scanner. However, according to the US Food and Drug Administration, there are a few things to watch out for. Factors that may affect the accuracy of a pulse oximeter reading include poor circulation, skin pigmentation, skin thickness, skin temperature, current tobacco use, and use of fingernail polish.
Therefore, it is imperative to ensure the maker of the device is reliable, the device is certified and it is as accurate as possible with the tiniest of margins of error when shopping for an oximeter.
According to the manufacturer, the pulse oximeter PM100 measures blood oxygen saturation levels and heart rate reliably and accurately. Both of these readings can be viewed on the well-readable OLED display in four different views as a bar graph or in wave form.
Biocompatible and anti-allergy, the Rossmax Fingertip Pulse Oximeter SB100 offers an SpO2 measurement range of 35%-99%, pulse range of 30-250 bpm. The precision for SpO2 between 70% and 99% is ±2%, while for 35%-69%, it is unspecified. The pulse rate for 30-250bpm is accurate up to ±3 bpm.
The Cami Pulse Oximeter can measure SpO2 between 80% and 99% where it is up to +-2% in terms of accuracy; 70%-79% up to +-3% in terms of accuracy; and anything below that is undefined. For pulse rates, it spans 30-235 bpm. The device comes with a 2-year warranty.