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About Pulse Oximetry and breathing patterns

I have a few questions about pulse oximetry if anyone can help please?

- Why do I get different readings from different fingers? Which finger is best?

- Why do my sats rise while I talk, regardless of my breathlessness?

- Why do my sats plummet when I stop talking/lie down after a short walk/hold my breath for only a few seconds?

- Side question: What is a normal breathing pattern? Inhale/Exhale how long? Should I be able to hear my own breathing or feel the coolness of air in my throat?

I have mild asthma and an upper airway obstruction that causes choking in my sleep, for the record-! Sorry for so many questions, can't find the answers!

2 Replies

Sats probes work best on warm fingers, we tend to use index finger at work ( I am a nurse ) . So the variation might be from the warmth / better circulation in your different fingers!!!

I normally find sats fall when my patients talk but this can vary with breathing patterns.

We teach relaxed breathing to aid us getting a normal blood pressure, we teach in for three hold for three and out for three.

Have you ever been to physio for chest / breathing help, I had this a few years ago through my asthma consultant , it really helped me .

Hope this reply helps xx


Thanks for the reply! Yeah my physio and I are trying to work through to a breathing pattern that helps; relaxing makes my upper airways restrict more, making it harder to breathe!

For some reason I can be totally breathless when trying to talk to someone but my sats stay stuck at 99% until I finish talking. Also the sats are higher on my middle finger by about 2%, no clue why XD


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