One of the common questions that we have in mind when it comes to pulse oximeter is how it is being measured. We should be aware that oximeter normal values are dependent on one’s health condition, respiratory rate, percentage of oxygen in the air, activities you are performing, and other factors.
It is important for a person to understand pulse oximeter readings. Let us discuss some of the general guidelines to understand oximeter readings. A regular healthy person has a normal blood oxygen saturation level that range from 94% to 99%. For patients having mild respiratory diseases, the SpO2 should be 90% or above. If SpO2 level falls below 90%, supplementary oxygen should be used.
If your oximeter reading is below 88%, oxygen supply will be needed. If you fall into this abnormal range, consulting a doctor is highly recommendable. For the doctors, they would want their patients to have their SpO2 above 90%.
On the other hand, sleep apnea, a temporary pause in breathing or shallow breaths during one's sleep, may affect one’s SpO2 level. Monitoring the SpO2 level in your while sleeping, is a good way to measure one’s condition.
Under some certain special conditions, an oximeter may not give accurate results. People should be aware of the limitations when interpreting the result. Regardless of the readings, patient should be treated immediately. The reading is only one of the several important assessment criterions, watch closely for symptoms of hypoxia or hypoxemia if you have noticed possibility of insufficient oxygen saturation level.
Furthermore, pulse oximeter measures oxygen saturation. It does not indicate the removal of carbon dioxide from blood. Along with SpO2, one needs to record the respiratory rate to get an indication on breathing. If the patient is having supplementary oxygen, track the amount of oxygen as well.
Moreover, it is advisable to monitor your pulse rate with your SpO2 because they are predictors of health problems. If you have abnormal readings in the oximeter even for a short period of time, never hesitate to see a doctor because having low or high pulse rate can indicate heart problems.
Pulse oximeter readings vary. The amount of oxygen in the air, which decreases at higher altitude, would have an important effect on a person's SpO2. One may have an oximeter reading of 98% at sea level; it may decrease to 95% at 5,000 ft. and further to 90% at 10,000 ft. At altitude above 10,000 ft., a person may fail to adjust to the low level of oxygen and his SpO2 may drop below 80% causing in hypoxic conditions.