Health

What should your oxygen levels be?


One of the many ways coronavirus affects the body is to impact the percentage of oxygen in your blood. (Picture: Vladimir SmirnovTASS via Getty Images)

A pulse oximeter that clips to your finger and measures your oxygen levels by reading the percentage of oxygen in your blood could be the latest gadget to provide early warning signs of a severe coronavirus infection at home.

The humble home thermometer, a staple of any parent’s basic medical kit, has been essential since the start of the pandemic in figuring out fevers and high temperatures – one of the main symptoms of Covid-19.

Now there are reports that heart-rate tracking Fitbit bands could provide early warning signs of the coronavirus, as well as oximeters.

Oximeters can be used to measure if the percentage of oxygen in your blood has dropped.

The British Lung Foundation explains: ‘Oxygen is carried around in your red blood cells by a molecule called haemoglobin. Pulse oximetry measures how much oxygen the haemoglobin in your blood is carrying. This is called the oxygen saturation and is a percentage (scored out of 100).

‘It’s a simple, painless test which uses a sensor placed on your fingertip or earlobe.’

What should your oxygen levels be?

One of the many impacts that Covid-19 can have on the body is that oxygen levels in the blood can drop to dangerous levels without the patient even noticing. This often means that when patients arrive in hospital struggling with the virus, they are perhaps much more ill than they realised.

Normally, oxygen levels should be over 95% in someone who is healthy and does not suffer with any lung problems.

The British Lung Foundation says: ‘The oximeter display shows the percentage of oxygen in your blood. For someone who’s healthy, the normal blood oxygen saturation level will be around 95–100%.’

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‘If the oxygen level is below this, it can be an indicator that there is a lung problem. People with low oxygen level may need additional oxygen or other treatment. Your health care professional will discuss this with you.’

While pulse oximeters can be bought from some pharmacies and shops like Boots, you shouldn’t rush out to buy one straight away.

Pulse oximeters must be used correctly to give accurate results, otherwise they can display misleading, poor or inaccurate readings that could cause undue concern.

Seek advice from a medical professional if you have purchased a pulse oximeter and want to use it to measure your blood oxygen saturation level at home.


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