there appears to be a mild obssession with sats on this forum?why because that is what our care providers want us believe that by self monitoring our sats we have control over our health.Perhaps our administrators can explain that sats only measure the oxygenated saturation of our blood supply and do not take into account its acidity levels,carbon monoxide levels.co2 retension or basically anything to do with our little train carring haeomoglobins,Proper gas analasis as what they do when they scrape a bit of blood out of your earlobe or if you are poorly in hospital and you get that nasty jab in the wrist is the best diagnosis kit for measuring whats happening in your blood and how its affecting your respitory system.Unfortuanetely to the best of my knowledge there is not much in the free market by way of kits we can do this ourselves.In essence.use your pulse oximeter from wherever you aquired it but do not believe or rely upon its accuracy if you feel your condition is getting the people who are paid to look after you and make the correct clinical diagnosi.Good luck

40 Replies

Hi Mike , did you have the test and can you benefit from oxygen therapy? I don't recall ever having those tests they've always used an oximeter. Hope you are doing okay,huff 😊

Hi Huffer,Not in the system yet as i don,t have a consultant even though i was diagnosed with copd about 15 years ago.First appt is with the long term conditions team and even that is not untill end of month.Looking for transfer to another trust as our trust screwed up badly with my wifes treatment. Another local hospital have an excellent lung disease centre so i will try and get in with them but i imagine the whole process will take several months.thanks for your concern

To some degree I think your right. The only time I really use my oxymeter is when I exercise. To make sure my 02 sats are not dropping. The rest of the time it's in my first aid tin. The only time I get short of breath is when I get a chest infection but I know the signs etc without using the oxymeter. They are only accurate to plus or minus 3% and so many things can alter the reading that at times that for a small drop they are next to useless. I do monitor my pulse and blood pressure but have been cutting down on this unless I am monitoring my vital signs when jogging.

Yes you are right but I think me having a fitbit has helped to reduce some anxiety especially around the intensity of any exercise I do ...trying to keep my heart rate within a comfortable range ... it works for me..!!

Me too. I've learned through my Fitbit Charge2 that I shouldn't normally push myself more than a gentle jog or aerobic dance.

I keep my heart rate below 130 when exercising, this I am told is 75% of my maximum safe limit. Normally it stays between 100 and 120 when I jog short distances. My blood pressure also goes up but both GP and physiotherapist say that fine as long as it recovers quickly. Once I have found a distance or speed safe I do not monitor it again until I either increase the distance or the speed. I then start monitoring again until I establish that vital signs are within safe limits.

I have an oximeter , but I only use it if I feel my chest getting tight, then it's a visit to the GP or my rescue meds.

It's trying to explain to a health professional who might say that my SATS are fine so you are ok, even though I am struggling to breathe.

I guess it's the gas exchange rate that is out of sync . I have had many a blood test into my wrist to check in hospital.

But some people do need to keep an eye on their O2 levels as if they fall too low they need help.

kinitter O2 levels are not related to breathlessness but to gas exchange. Breathlessness is a function of emphysema and the difficulty in exhaling.

I totally agree with you. I don't see my Dr for a while they stick that thing on my finger for 20 seconds and bingo it's all there. You have to have a ABG done for any accuracy!!

Thank You

good advice skischool. i got my oximeter not long after diagnosis and my obssession with it was far from mild, it replaced the box of fags that was in my hand 24/7.

after a week i took it back to where i bought it from and demanded that they replace it as it only had one reading 99%. they replaced it with one that gave readings of 97.98. 99. but it dont do 100% like the hospital one.

Sadly even the hospital ones only have an accuracy of plus or minus 2. So if I get any reading above 96% that will do. They are not very precise and often do not give good readings due to external factors. Interesting I there is an app that you can put on your phone that uses the camera lens. When you use it you place your finger over the lens and it gives a reading. Tested against my one and the nurses one it gave the same reading. So if you want to calibrate yours downloading the app is a cheap way of checking.

thanks for the infoe Badbessie, i dont really use it much now as the novelty worn off a bit and i found out a lot about my condition now so i dont worry like i used to.

though i have been looking at a few things that you can attach to your mobile that will help us look at ourselves better.

will deffenately down load this app you mentioned. 🤔 thanks ☺

Can you tell me the name of the app?

No need to worry about us on this forum skischool, not to sure about us being obsessed about our oxy meters. The more information we have to hand the more we can help ourselves and an oxy meter can be very helpful when dialing 111 for example or wondering whether to break open the emergency Meds.

Agreed. Knowledge is power.

I disagree. Care providers often don't want copd patients to have their own oximeters precisely because they think we will become obsessed rather than use them in the measured way that most of us do. I find mine particularly useful when Im feeling unwell, and when Im pushing my exercise further than I normally do. Oximeters give a useful indication about oxygen levels. It would never occur to me - or probably most of us here - to think they give the whole picture so I find your post a tad patronising.

Totally agree with you 02Trees. When my husband had his diagnosis of IPH in 2011 ( he was extremely ill after the diagnosis, not expected to live & in ICU on a ventilator.) Total of five weeks in Hospital. When he came home I bought an oxymeter, with our GP's approval. I admit to overusing it I think initially but that settled down & we found it enormously useful as you rightly say, as an indication, nothing more. Because Mike's condition was so rare, we would never have relied totally on it .

I in many ways agree with your statement. But from posts on this site and on others there appears to be a short fall in the understanding of there use. It's not just pulse oximeters but blood pressure machines and other items of medical equipment that people buy.

There may well be poor understanding when people are newly diagnosed but I think most people get the idea as they go on, and especially after they've experienced PR as the physios are excellent at explaining stuff.

I have mixed feelings on the self help meters? I have had many a jab in the wrist to check my blood in more detail but I also have the medics pop the oxymeter on my finger after I have rested and state it does not look that bad. I know while I am just sitting down I do not have that much of a problem but only need to do the mildest of things and I can be dropping like a stone. Consultant said I should do more exercise however Pulmonary Rehab have deemed me exercise intolorant?

I was diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension in 2013 and it is only now they think that is my main problem with my breathing. My heart issues are not helping which I find having multi-conditions helps the docs move blaim!

I did have a budget heart monitor which worked very well but it reacted with my wrist :( My family jointly bought me a Fitbit Blaze and changed the strap to a metal one which seems to have a lot more detail. I cannot figure out how it knows I have gone up stairs though? ( which will make my sats drop by a large margin)

Be Well

Thank you 02Trees, well said.


ABG and Oximeters are two different and distinctive test, I agree ABG provides more information which is relevant at the time the test is taken.

Likewise a oximeter is a good indicator of oxygen saturation and heart rate at the time the test is taken.

I am on Ambulitory oxygen therapy, on my annual oxygen review I take a six minute walk test, with my oxygen saturation checked every minute, unless I use the hand held with finger probe.

Having this check done by ABG would be impracticable and irrelevant, so a oximeter is the most practical and reliable test to check my oxygen saturation and heart rate.

I was dx with COPD in 2006. And only started using a personal oximeter when I joined this site. Oximeter have a few restrictions for using an Oximeter like nail polish and arthritis in your fingers and cold hands. When I have had the 6 min walk test an earlobe moniter has all ways been used. There are a few members that go over board with the amount of times they use there oximeter. But I am sure they will reduce this when they come to terms with there diagnosis.

I remember a respiratory nurse putting an oxymeter on one finger and it was a bit low so she put it on another and said oh that's ok. Very strange.

My pulse oximeter only gives a good reading on two fingers on my hand due to another medical condition. Always best to find out which finger gives the best reading and use that one all the time.

Well said, any O.T.C aids i.e.:Thermometers, Pulse -Oximeters,B P equipment, can all be useful in assisting an element of self responsibility, once there is a definitive diagnosis and one is familiar with their "Baseline".As for A B G,s analysis cost implications would make this unviable, and whilst the machine calibrated the information we enter, there requires the necessity to understand the results and act accordingly i.e.: repeat gases? No, Not a sound idea at all.


Sorry to hear that you feel patronised o2trees.this was never my intention.Quite happy to disagree with people though as its all just good healthy debate on a topic close to all of us.Happy breaths everyone.

I have to agree with O2Trees. I have very severe COPD and have used an oximeter for the last 8 years or so. I was very much discouraged from doing so by the respiratory nurses and my then consultant but I wanted to be a part of my team and learn more about my condition. I compared it with the ones used at the hospital and in clinic, I learned to use and read it properly giving it time to settle to obtain a true reading, and I am so thankful that I did because when I had an episode of breathlessness (normal for me but this was a little more then normal) I checked my oxygen sats and found them to be in the 70s and dropping. After being admitted to hospital it was found that one of my lungs (the better of the two) had collapsed, leaving me seriously short of oxygen. This has happened 3 times now and my oximeter is credited by my new consultant as having saved my life. So, I will go on using it.

Good for you Toci. This is a no-brainer. Of course you must use it and thank goodness your consultant has come round to it.

He didn't come around, I swapped him for a better one. :D

Oh yes - that was your "then" consultant. Out with the old and in with the new :D

Of course we need to keep a general eye. On our Sats....It's our future. It's no good fighting against COPD, Asthma, etc if our internal organs pack up due to being damaged through lack of oxygen. As you say, there is no other tests available. How many monitors have you tested to come to there conclusion they are all inaccurate? I've had mine over three years, it's not had an easy life but everyone i go for a checkup or the doctor takes my Sats, i follow and compare readings and they always agree. The last the paramedics came to me, she asked where i had got mine. I said Amazon, she said here here but the only difference was the price. Mine was cheaper because i didn't have to pay VAT.

I never use any at home I would forever be taking my sats lol and scare my self xx

I totally agree. I just go on how I'm feeling and although I've had lung disease for over 65 years I've only just purchased my first oximeter and have quickly realised that I could become addicted to checking its readings. I've put it in the draw and will forget about it and stick to how I feel. I've had many blood tests taken from the wrist and the earlobe test but usually only have earlobe attacked when I have 'lung function' tests carried out. Keep well and positive. x

joy please don,t forget it,it is still a usefull tool and could indicate an obvious and serious exacerbation etc use it if you feel that things are not quite as normal as you are used too but use it in conjunction and support from those that are well paid and qualified to assist you.even if you need to cajole them to do so(sounds like a dig at gp,s?)oh well i am sure they have thick enough skins to take it on the chin good luck

Just spent 3 days in hospital due to a bad infection in the nether regions ... I am on home oxygen but they decided as my 'Sats' were good i didn't need it in there ... well sorry to say I have turned my life upside down for this bloody stuff and now they treat it like nothing ... Do I use it at home or not .. they said well at the moment you are okay .... but what about tomorrow ??? got a review for re assessment from oxygen nurse cos I am concerned now here's hoping I survive the weekend xx

if you are on oxygen therapy at home i would cotinue to use it as originally prescribed.i am surprised you even managed to stay in 3 days,they normaly try to stick you on an AMU ward for 24hours and kick you out as medically fit for discharge.Did you see a proper respitory consultant in the hospital or a jack of all trades registrar?I am disturbed but not surprised at thier decision to not give you o2 as you have it as an aid to manage your condition long term not when they think you might need it.good luck hope you get it sorted soon

I was on the dreaded AMU for a night then up to another allsorts ward and had all but my palm read ... spent a night there and now they need the bed for the weekend so chucked out ... Might invest in a finger reader tomorrow but the reason I have oxy isn't for my breathing it is to rest my heart as I have heart failure so what now I wonder will see how I feel if it gets rough I shall hook up to the machine until I can see the nurse x

Hi everyone

I consider the oxy meter an essential tool for my situation. I am now almost bed bound, on 15lpm of oxygen, awaiting a lung transplant, best I can get on the oxy meter is generally about 84, although 88 is possible If I lie completely relaxed. When the carer's come to wash me rolling onto my side drops the oxygen SATs to low 60s. It is at this point that the oxy meter is essential as it a visible indication to the carer's to stop, until, I can get my levels back into low 80s. Once I do drop into the 60s I normally start coughing, which makes things even worse.

At this point an ABG test is useless to me, as no new information can be gained from the test. The body is not healing very well due to the low oxygen levels. The damage after the last ABG took around 2 months to heal, note it took 4 attempts on one wrist that had only had an ABG done 4 days previous, so doc eventually changed to other wrist.


Anyway that's my current situation, still hanging on and hoping for the transplant.

Wishing everyone all the best, tenter X X

Stay strong Tenter.

You may also like...