Pulse Oximeter

If you or a loved one currently has coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, you should consider using a pulse oximeter.

An oximeter is a small device which clips onto your finger and measures oxygen saturation in your blood.  Normal oxygen level in the blood is between 95% and 100%.  Using this device 3 times a day and recording your readings can help to guard against silent hypoxia.  Silent hypoxia is where oxygen levels drop dangerously low without you noticing.

People seriously ill with covid have been presenting at hospitals with oxygen saturation levels as low as 70-85%.  With oxygen levels so low, the symptoms are harder to treat effectively.

A pulse oximeter cost about £20 and is a potentially life-saving device.  It allows people to monitor their oxygen levels.  Some high-risk Covid patients in the UK are being given oximeters to use.  The doctor leading the project thinks everyone should consider buying one.  If oxygen levels drop below 92%, people should go to A&E or call 999 for an ambulance.

If you buy an oximeter, make sure it has a CE Kitemark.  Avoid using apps on smartphones since they are not as reliable., which he said were not as reliable.


Gardiner’s Care Workers will gladly support our clients to purchase an oximeter and also to use it to measure, record and monitor oxygen levels.

Using a pulse oximeter to check you are OK

Pulse oximeter

The oximeter tests how fast your heart is beating and how much oxygen is in your blood.

Knowing these things means doctors can tell if you are getting better or getting more unwell.  This means you can get the treatment you need at the right time.

Wash your hands before and after you use the pulse oximeter.
The oximeter attaches to your finger and doesn’t hurt.
Make sure the finger you are going to use does not have any nail varnish or a false nail on it.

Make sure your hand is warm to the touch. Then rest it on your chest for five minutes.
Switch the pulse oximeter on.
Then attach the clip of the pulse oximeter to the finger next to your thumb, or your middle finger.

Watch the numbers on the pulse oximeter.  When the numbers on the pulse oximeter have stopped changing, write the numbers down.

Write down your readings three times every day at the same time each day.  You should also test yourself if you begin to feel more unwell.

Go to your nearest Accident and Emergency (A&E) straight away or call 999 if:

  • You can’t finish a short sentence when you are resting because you are breathless.
  • Your breathing suddenly gets much worse within an hour.

If the blood oxygen number on the pulse oximeter stays at 92% or less, you should seek help.
Tell the person you speak to what the pulse oximeter says your blood oxygen number is.

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