What is Oximeter and why is it gaining popularity?

Oximeter seems to be one of the products people are grabbing off shelves. Amongst this deadly outbreak, many items are selling out fast like Face Masks, Sanitizers, and also oximeters. 

It is pretty obvious why masks and sanitizers are selling out rapidly. But what is Oximeter and why is it filling out fast will need a deeper look.

Oximeter, what does it do?

The pulse oximeter is a non-invasive and painless test that measures the oxygen saturation level in our blood. It can rapidly detect small changes in how efficiently oxygen is being carried out by the body. It is a small device that can be clipped onto our fingers or earlobe.


An oximeter is highly efficient as it is portable, quick, painless, and easy to control and use.

How does it work?

So how does such a small little device measure the oxygen saturation level on our body without taking out any blood or other samples?

The clip sends beams of light passing through the blood of the finger it is clipped on. It can measure oxygen levels by measuring the changes of light absorption in oxygenated or deoxygenated blood. Since it is just light beams passing onto our skin it is completely painless. With this method, the oximeter can measure the oxygen level as well as show our pulse.

Pulse oximetry readings are fairly accurate and reliable. Most oximeters provide results within a 2-percent difference of the actual result. However, the quality of the waveform and assessment of the individual must be considered. Factors such as movement, temperature, or even nail polish can affect the accuracy. The polish can absorb light emitted by the oximeter and interfere with the result.

An oximeter reading of a regular healthy person would show 98% SpO2 and 72bpm for a pulse as published by the World Health Organisation.


The obvious purpose of an oximeter is to measure the oxygen level. However, for what reason or instances should we be measuring our oxygen level is the main question.

The oximeter is used to monitor the health of individuals with a condition that can affect the blood oxygen levels such as:

  • Pneumonia
  • Asthma
  • Lung Cancer
  • Anemia
  • Heart attack
  • COVID-19

People are using oximeters to track the seriousness of the virus at home. If the oxygen level stays at a normal level, then there is not much to worry and the patient can isolate at home. However, if the oxygen level is dangerously low it helps the patient know when to go to the hospital and when self-isolating at home itself is not enough.

Also Read: What is the CT value in the Covid-19 PCR test?

As the situation is getting more critical people are not taking risks and buying things that seem to be of the slightest help. It is important to make sure you have enough sanitizers, soap, and face masks. The oximeter is a very helpful device especially in today’s time as we can see its multiple benefits. However, a very important thing to ensure is that one can not depend solely on the readings of an oximeter. It is a good suggestive measure but if a person has stable reading does not mean they are COVID negative, in the initial stage, COVID patients can have stable oximeter readings. 

Most importantly, we need to be aware of scam devices, although it is unlikely several oximeters are not very accurate and can not be reliable. An example of this would be a TikTok video that went viral when an oximeter showed the pulse rate of a pencil. This is why we need to be very careful regarding such sensitive things. Make sure you try the machine before buying and buy from safe official pharmacies and shops. And most importantly do not completely rely on this machine.

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