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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

COVID-19: How to use pulse oximeter at home to get accurate readings

Covid-19 omicron spread: Here is how to take reliable and accurate readings from your pulse oximeter at home.

By: Tech Desk | Mumbai |
Updated: January 17, 2022 3:29:02 pm
pulse oximeter, oximeter, how to use oximeter, Pulse Oximeter, Pulse Oximeter useCheck out tips to make sure your oximeter readings are as accurate as possible. (Express Photo)

Covid-19 cases in India are on the rise again, especially in metro cities like Delhi, Bangalore, though Mumbai is seeing a decline. During such a time, you should always be prepared to take care of yourself at home should you get infected with the Covid-19 virus.

Among a number of things you can do at home to take care of yourself during infection is using a pulse oximeter to determine your blood oxygen levels and heart rate. However, it is necessary to know the correct steps to get an accurate reading on your oximeter. Here are a few steps you can take to get reliable, accurate ratings. These recommendations come via the Indian Council for Medical Research.


Try to use the oximeter in an upright sitting position if possible. This will ensure that your heart rate and blood oxygen ratings are accurate as there is no irregular flow of blood in your body in a relaxed position. Use your index finger of either hand if possible and make sure your fingers don’t have any nail polish, pigments, or deformity that can affect the reading of the oximeter.

Begin taking the reading by placing your index finger inside the oximeter, with your fingernail facing upwards. This means that the display of the oximeter will be facing upwards as well. Make sure your hand is in a steady position, and there is no movement to affect the rating.

Preparing the oximeter

Make sure your oximeter is clean and free of dirt and dust before use. If the Covid-infected patient has still not used the oximeter, a fit friend or family member can check it to determine if the readings look alright. Note that it is unwise to do so after giving the oximeter to an infected person as this could increase the chances of spreading the virus.

It is also a good idea to make sure the sensor on your oximeter is clean before every reading so provide the infected patient with a microfiber cloth to keep the meter clean.

Taking the reading

To ensure that your oximeter delivers an accurate reading, allow the device to stabilise for a whole minute before recording your readings. Make sure that you do not press the device while it is in the process of taking a reading.

You should avoid taking oximeter readings under a direct source of bright light like sunlight as this can affect the sensor’s accuracy and give you a false reading. The oximeter’s values may also be affected by other factors like shivering so make sure you’re completely still and relaxed while doing so.

What the readings mean

A normal resting heart rate for humans can be between 60 and 100 beats per minute. It is a good idea to know what your normal heart-rate usually is so you have something to compare. If you see abnormally low or high readings on the oximeter, do not panic and contact your family or doctor immediately.

The same procedure should be followed for the oxygen saturation readings. If your blood oxygen level is above 95 on the oximeter, you’re safe. However, if the oxygen percentage starts dropping below 93 per cent, then you should inform your family member or doctor of the same so that timely action can be taken.

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