British Lung Foundation
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How do I use a oximeter

I have just bought a oximeter from Amazon any idea how to use it. I was hopeing it would give me some idea if l need oxygen or not. If l'm have a coughing fit my husband says have some oxygen. I have no idea if l am short of oxygen or not, need ventolin, l seem to be getting confused dont l, l think the medics need to train us into coping with our illness. My oxygen drops very quickly bending down, walking from room to room, the disease has upped it a bit more as l'm finding it hard talking. My mum is finding it very hard bless her she does like to chat. The top part reads 79, when taking oxygen quickly goes to 88-89 if that helps.

5 Replies

There are usually 2 numbers - one is your pulse rate, the other the oxygen saturation. If you had a leaflet or something with the oximeter it should tell you which is which ! Good luck, take care



In this picture the top one is your pulse and the bottom one is the oxygen saturation. Oxygen will have " SpO2 " written next to it. The one in the picture is reading 98% saturation. Mine when resting is 90% and goes lower with exercise.

I hope that helps.


I have been using a pulse oximeter twice a week for some months and to be honest it is more confusing than helpful! Sometimes I feel rough and my Spo2 (oxygen levels) are quite good, 94/95 and other times when am feeling good the Spo2 is low 89/90 . So ???

One thing I know is relevant is how quickly your Spo2 recovers after exertion.

Do you have a respiratory nurse to chat things over with or perhaps speaks the BLF helpline after Christmas.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas.



I'm finding using oxygen very confusing so after reading some use a oximeter on here l was hoping it will tell me l need oxygen, at rest my levels are good but as soon as l move my oxygen drops l have IPF. It has been precribed to use up to 2 hours a day on a Air Liquid concentrator. l have phoned the help line and they couldn't help as they said they would be in trouble if they gave me the wrong information, l probably wasted my money. Do you use a cannula how often do you change it, and how do you keep it clean, l have bought wipes but it drops on the floor, not good when you have to stick it up your nose, although cumberson l still find a mask better, just can't wear specs with it on. Take care. Merry Christmas.


Hey Buddygirl,

So sorry to hear that you are still struggling with things esp. your nasal cannula. I don't use any oxygen so I am not able to help you except to say, I would think wiping the cannula with antibacterial wipes or a bit if hand sanitiser now and again would be fine, tho do agree best not to let it drop on the floor if at all possible.

Anyway have a great Christmas time and a Very Happy New Year.



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