What is a pulse oximeter?

September 24, 2009 1 min read

What is a pulse oximeter?

A pulse oximeter is a devise which is used to determine a patient’s oxygen saturation level as well as the user’s pulse.  Many people use pulse oximeters, from elite athletes to people needing oxygen therapy, to ensure they have the proper oxygen level.  Many Nonin Onyx Finger-Tip Pulse Oximeter for Clinical Usedoctors also use pulse oximeters to monitor patients’ oxygen levels and pulse.

Some good candidates for pulse oximeters are: people who use oxygen theory, people who suffer from respiratory conditions such as asthma or COPD, or people who experience extreme elevations (such as mountain climbers).

Pulse oximeters usually work by attaching to the tip of one finger.  They reflect lights off the finger to determine the oxygen level in the capillaries. Very dark fingernail polish can affect the accuracy of the reading, so patients who consistently use a pulse oximeter should be careful to keep finger nails light. 

While individual oxygen levels vary, average oxygen levels for healthy people at sea level are between 96 and 98 percent.  At higher elevations, such as Denver, Colorado, oxygen levels between 92 and 94 percent are average.  You should discuss your optimum oxygen saturation level with your healthcare provider.