Have you ever experienced shortness of breath?  It’s a completely normal thing which happens to everyone once in a while due to various reasons, regardless of the age.

However, if you are often struggling to catch a breath, it would be a good idea to do a pulse oximetry test. This test determines the amount of oxygen in our body, which is transported from our lungs to the organs through blood.

To be more precise, the hemoglobin proteins are in charge ofthe transferring process, so oximetry measures the quantity of oxygen found in hemoglobin, otherwise known as oxygen saturation.

Nowadays, it’s not difficult to familiarize yourself with the oximetry method, especially online. You can find a lot of links like this one, http://www.klaudiascorner.net/what-is-a-pulse-oximeter-pulse-oximetry-abg-tests/, which provide detailed information on this topic.

What does an oximeter look like?

It’s a small, very light and practical device which is attached to a body part, most frequently on a finger, but sometimes on the foot, earlobe or wrist. It is a completely painless tool with a small screen, which shows the percentage of oxygen and the heart rate.

Types of oximeters

There are a couple of types of oximeters such as the portable type which people usually have at home. It can be attached to the finger or the ear lobe and it has a shape of a clip. The small screen shows the oxygen levels, measured with the help of the infrared rays going through our body.

Doctors use another type of oximeters, the handheld type. These are more precise and detailed devices. They don’t just show the level of oxygen saturation, but also the heart rate and other measurements which are important to the doctors. It can be attached to various parts of the body depending on the situation.

There is one more type, specially designed for children. It is designed in a way that it can be attached to the head for easy measurement. It’s called the fetal oximeter and it’s used for checking the health of children and newborn babies.

How do you read an oximeter?

In order for the results to be good, you need to have between 95 and 100 percent oxygen in your red blood cells. Every percentage lower than that, is an indication of a health problem.

The results are almost completely accurate; they may differ with one or two percents depending on various factors. For instance, if you are walkingor running the saturation percent might be slightly lower. This percentage is also affected by the temperature of our bodies.

Its uses

The oximetry test is useful due to various reasons. It is especially convenient for people who suffer from sleep apnea and lose their breath while sleeping. It monitors their oxygen levels during the night in order to prevent them from choking when they suddenly wake up. You can read more about the relation between sleep apnea and saturation levels on the following link.

It is also used during and post operations and to check the change of oxygen levels when a person is doing an increased physical activity. It can be beneficial for those who use ventilators as a breathing aid. Oximetry shows if they need the ventilators or how well they are performing.

People who suffer from heart diseases, anemia, asthma, pneumonia and other conditions related to shortness or losing of breath, should use oximeters to monitor their health on a daily basis. Sometimes these devices can help in the prevention of some diseases like heart failure.

Potential risks

Since oximeters are noninvasive tools, the risks of something happening to you while using them is very low. The only thing which might happen is a slight irritation of the skin where the device was placed. Another risk could be showing inaccurate results, due to pulse changes, poor blood flow or even wearing nail polish.


We hope that this information helped you to become more knowledgeable on the topic of oximetry.

If you are a person who is prone to losing breath, make sure you have this type of device at home. It’s inexpensive and practical, but most importantly, beneficial to your health!

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