Home 5 News 5 Deep Dissection of a Pulse Oximeter: What Are the top 7 Factors That Affect Readings?
Deep Dissection of a Pulse Oximeter: What Are the top 7 Factors That Affect Readings?

Nov 15, 2022

As medical facilities keep pace with the times, pulse oximeters are appearing on the market at a rapid rate. Initially, the use of pulse oximeters was limited to hospitals but gradually became more common in other parts of medical equipment. Today, it is a standard part of every medical facility and a must-have service in every home. But how much do you know about it? Are your readings accurate? What are the factors that affect the readings?

The vast majority of people’s awareness of the pulse oximeter is limited to that it is a medical device that can measure the pulse, while a small number of people also know the term oxygen saturation, but does not know the specific concept.

Oxygen saturation

Oxygen saturation reading (SpO2) is a measure of the amount of oxygenated hemoglobin in the circulatory system. Therefore, the patient’s respiratory status cannot be fully displayed, nor can the oxygen transport and cellular environment be well known. This is why blood gas measurement requires information such as CO2 and pH so that the patient’s respiratory and cellular functions can be improved.


Factors Affecting Pulse Oximeter Readings

The development of pulse oximetry technology is a leap forward in medical history. For the first time, we can accurately measure the oxygen saturation of individuals, thereby helping them further treat respiratory diseases. So many people now use pulse oximeters at home to test their indexes, but even the most accurate medical equipment will be affected by various environmental and physiological conditions, resulting in unstable device readings, so how can we What about mitigating the effects of these factors when measuring at home?

1. Insufficiency of blood flow

The saturation of oxygen is detected by passing through the blood through a sensor in the pulse oximeter probe. But with insufficient blood flow, the readings can fluctuate widely. Blood pressure must be above 80. Low blood pressure can be caused by any of the following:

Nerve blocker drugs and fears, colds
Device placement errors and squeezing
Cardiac arrest
Blood vessel collision
Intimate clothing, cuffs that are too narrow or restrained

2. Ambient light source brightness

When taking an oxygen reading, the probe of the pulse oximeter starts emitting infrared light, which travels through the superficial skin to measure the number of oxygenated blood cells in your veins. However, if your environment is too bright, it will dilute the infrared light and cause your readings to be inaccurate, so it is recommended that you avoid using the pulse oximeter in an environment that is too bright.

3. Use after exercise

When you use a pulse oximeter after exercising or exercising a lot, its readings may be inaccurate. However, some brands of devices can overcome this drawback, such as Yonker.

4. Blood-thinning drugs

Certain types of medications can also cause your device to read incorrectly. For example, if you are taking blood thinning or neuro-type medications, false readings are common. These drugs, while great for treating the disease, can also affect your blood flow and cause inaccurate readings.


5. Artificial nails, nail polish, and other finger accessories

It’s also possible that finger accessories such as fake nails that you wear on your hands can be a significant factor in your pulse oximeter readings, which can prevent the probe light source from passing through your finger while the device is running. Therefore, you must remove these accessories when measuring for the device to work properly.

6. The wrist is disturbed by the external gravity

It is common to see people wearing a lot of pressure cuffs or other accessories on their wrists and arms, it is important to remember to remove these accessories because too much gravity is applied to the wrist during readings, which can cause oxygenated cell counts and decrease. Blood flow calculations were wrong, resulting in inaccurate pulse oximeter readings.

7. Own Health

Your health conditions can also affect device readings, such as poor blood flow, patients with methemoglobinemia, sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, and anemia, all of which can make pulse oximeter readings inaccurate.

Why pulse oximeter readings are taken with a finger

Taking blood oxygen saturation readings can be done on various parts of the body, such as toes and earlobes. But there are few parts as convenient as the finger, which only takes a few minutes to complete the measurement of the device without taking too much time.
Which finger is the best detection position? The answer may not be what you think. Studies have shown that the highest SpO2 value is measured by the tester’s right middle finger, and the difference in readings is relatively small compared to other fingers. You can also measure different fingers multiple times to get a relatively accurate reading.


Who benefits most from a pulse oximeter?

1. People with respiratory diseases

Pulse oximeters are useful for chronic respiratory diseases, asthma, bronchitis, and chronic lung diseases, all of which can prevent a person from getting enough oxygen. If there is no medical device that is always around and accurate to monitor, the consequences are unimaginable. Therefore, doctors will recommend that patients always have a pulse oximeter to provide data to determine the course of treatment.

2. People who have just had surgery

Hypoxia is a very common postoperative reaction in a patient who has just completed surgery, and this is where a pulse oximeter is required.

3. Children aged 2-14

Pulse oximeters are great medical devices for some first-time parents, and even if a child looks perfectly healthy, some life-threatening illnesses can occur without paying attention, something we can’t predict of. Therefore, checking your child’s readings regularly can ensure that they are healthy through their developmental period.

4. People who want to monitor their health

Finally, a pulse oximeter is available to anyone who wants to monitor their health, and one of the metrics doctors often check is oxygen and pulse readings, which are very important vital signs. Daily attention to your health is far better than a sudden illness.

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