Importance of having a pulse oximeter... - British Lung Foun...

British Lung Foundation

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Importance of having a pulse oximeter during COVID-19


Hi all, I was sent a link yesterday to this New York Times article written by an emergency doctor at Bellevue Hospital. He details the particular qualities of covid pneumonia, particularly "silent hypoxia" where you can desaturate spectacularly without feeling particularly breathless. Hence late calls for help and late referrals to hospital when the pneumonia is already well advanced and treatment has to be more extreme. Checking your O2 with a pulse ox is recommended to get necessary treatment early and avoid intubation.

This is written about patients without respiratory conditions who arent used to having to deal with breathlessness. Maybe we would recognise symptoms earlier but who knows? This covid pneumonia seems to be distinctly different to pneumonia Im used to anyway.

You may have to sign on to read it but it's worth it - it was an eye opener to me though maybe Dr John Campbell has spoken about it, I havent had time to view to all those very useful youtubes.

18 Replies

That makes so much sense Jean and could save many lives. This Covid pneumonia is very different and we need to get on top of it. I’ll look into getting a pulse oximeter as it sounds like a good idea. Xxx 😘

Mezitonka in reply to sassy59

If you get an oxypulsometer check it against your gp's. Mine reads a lttle lower, eg 93 against 95. Below 90 for a lengthy period will ordinarily leave you feeling at least a little hypoxic. That means the other fraction is co2. Below 85 is definitely to be worried about. Read up on hypercapnia (high co2 in the blood). Ask your gp about the danger threshold. They are around £12 on the net.

sassy59 in reply to Mezitonka

Thank you Mezitonka, pulse oximeter hard to obtain at the moment. I wanted to buy a decent one from the UK so will do some research. Take care xxxx

Jean if you saw my sats on any given day i would spend it sitting in an ambulance ready for immediate admission to hospital,the low seventies are sometimes the norm for me even after just pottering about,but very useful info for people with more regular sats who show definite downward trends without the associated breathlessness. :) x

O2Trees in reply to skischool

Well you know your usual baseline or variations Mike - so I guess you would look out for a further deterioration as an indication you would be in trouble. But of course we are used to checking our sats. Those without conditions are not. I have had serious pneumonia several times now but my sense of my breathing has corresponded to what the oximeter shows. It seems covid pneumonia is different. xx

Yes, I read that earlier today and concluded that I really must get some batteries for my oximeter!

peege in reply to frose

Me too, so long since I used it. I'll get batteries tomorrow .

Thanks for the post J, a great reminder, it absolutely makes sense xxx

I have to check my sats twice a day and record them Jean. Sometimes I think it's a bother but after reading this I'm glad I do. Thanks for the information. Hoping you are well. xx 🍀🐞

Really good article, well spotted. I think you’re right, we might realise the danger signs but people with no experience of lung problems probably wouldn’t. It also helps people decide when to call 999 rather than 111

skischool in reply to Hanne62

Should i ever need to replace any one of my 3 pulse oximeters i am going to blame jean for the price increase lol :) but yes good research and maybe a few complications and lives maybe saved by early intervention when sats plunge for no other reason.?

I also read that the other day and have been checking my sats in case.

My asthma has been terrible lately, worst it’s been for years, but then I read that the pollen is the highest since records began, 70 years ago! My level has dropped to 93% (normally 97%).

Thanks for the article.

Sparkywoo in reply to Lynneypin

I’ve been the same. Regularly using pulse oximeter and conversations with asthma nurse has kept me sane

Nik72 in reply to Sparkywoo

Same here we all have our DIY kits at home which I found reassuring when I was having a “bad day” nice to see I was in the “normal “ for me range.

Keep safe everyone

I have a spare. About six months ago I put one away in a safe place and then could not find it..Lol.. So I brought another then found the original one. At the start of the lock down I put Dr John Campbell's video on fever and care of the sick on the street chat group. Since then I have had a couple of requests to lend my oximeter. Obviously I kept one solely for my own use but my spare is being passed round the street. The other thing I have noticed is how much the price of oximeters gone up. What cost me ten pounds last year is thirty pounds now!

Thanks I found that interesting reading and have thinking of buying one for ages - done it ! Anita x

Very interesting! Thanks for sharing the link. xx Moy

I bought one three weeks ago from China. It works well and arrived within a week. It also measures your pulse. I also now have a blood pressure monitor, which was not expensive. All this because I had a very bad breathing crisis requiring overnight hospitalisation. I am now aware for the first time of the importance of checking my oxygen level daily to alert me in case I get asymptomatic COVID-19, though I have been in lockdown since 13 March.

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