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5 Best Pulse Oximeters for Home Use

by Amanda Ghosh May 03, 2017 0 Comments

Finger Pulse Oximeter by ViveThe best pulse oximeter for home use is the one that you are able to use with little difficulty. Oximeters offer those who need it—people with COPD, congestive heart failure, asthma, and other pulmonary diseases— a feasible way to monitor oxygen saturation levels. If your doctor prescribes you oxygen, you'll need to administer & monitor oxygen levels. The pulse oximeter measures the oxygen saturation level of your blood and tells you what your level is so that you can adjust your oxygen accordingly. While a pulse oximeter is frequently obtained by people with pulmonary conditions, those looking to monitor their oxygen levels during strenuous activity also buy this product. We’ve chosen our top 5 pulse oximeters for home use & explained the key features to look for.

1. Masimo MightySat Fingertip Pulse Oximeter

Masimo MightySat Fingertip Pulse Oximeter

Amazon

This is our first pick because it comes equipped for Bluetooth and tracks your respiration rate and your Pleth Variability Index. This oximeter was actually shown to be more accurate than 19 other pulse oximeters in research studies. And, its Signal Extraction Technology (SET®) ensures a more accurate reading, even if you’re engaging in vigorous activity or have low blood flow.

Pros:
  • It's easy to tell if your oxygen reading is reliable because you can check the Perfusion Index (see information section below for more details about how to use a PI reading)
  • It will help you to understand factors that affect oxygen readings like exercise and sometimes different times of day

 

Cons:
  • This is really best to spot check your oxygen level, it's not meant to be continuously monitoring your oxygen saturation level all the time

Tip:
Connect this to the Masimo Personal Health app for added convenience.

2. FaceLake ® FL400 Pulse Oximeter

FaceLake ® FL400 Pulse Oximeter

Amazon

Our second pick is FaceLake’s® pulse oximeter. It comes with a carrying case, batteries, and a neck/wrist cord. We like that it not only measures your oxygen, it measures your pulse rate and strength. And, it does so in only 10 seconds! Plus, its large digital screen makes it easy to read your results. Rest assured with this product, it exceeds FDA standards, and has a reliable battery life. It will shut off automatically when needed, to preserve battery. This is best suited for those wanting a pulse oximeter for sports or aviation.

Pros:
  • It's easy to read your readings because of the large digital display
  • This oximeter doesn't drain its batteries quickly

 

 

Cons:
  • It's tends to have some accuracy issues

Tip:
Not a medical devise (for sports and aviation use. People who need extremely accurate readings may benefit from another pulse oximeter.

3. iHealth Air Pulse Oximeter for Apple and Android

iHealth Air Pulse Oximeter for Apple and Android

Amazon

If you like being hooked up to your phone, this pulse oximeter is for you. Integrate it with ihealth and all of its products. This device measures blood oxygen levels, pulse rate, and perfusion index. It’s wireless and has an easy to use app! Plus, you can sync it to Bluetooth Smart. We like this because you can track your trends and report back to your doctor instead of just spot checking to make sure your oxygen levels aren’t low. This is well suited for those who want to use it before and after their workouts. Plus, it has a sleek design that’s appealing to the eye.

Pros:
  • You can track your data and find trends. This seems like good data to share with your doctor.
  • You're going to be able to sync it to Bluetooth
  • You can use the variety of iHealth apps to assist you in achieving your goals
Cons:
  • App tracks by what seems to be an average if used longer than 30 minutes. Some people might want more continuous data (i.e. a reading at every second, minute, etc. Not an average over a time period).

4. Finger Pulse Oximeter by Vive

Finger Pulse Oximeter by Vive

Vivehealth

We like Vive’s product because it comes with an alarm feature. For those who are worried about irregular heart beats or low oxygen saturation levels, rest assured. An alarm will detect this and alert you. This way, if you forget to check, you’re notified if there is cause for concern. This product also comes with batteries, a carrying cause, a lanyard and an instruction manual.

Pros:
  • Detects irregular heart beats which is a unique feature compared to other pulse oximeters
  • Custom alarm will alert you if oxygen level drops
  • Simple use
Cons:
  • Readings can sometimes be a bit lower than your true oxygen level

5. Fingertip Blood Oxygen Saturation Monitor

Fingertip Blood Oxygen Saturation Monitor

Amazon

If you are picky about what color you get, this product comes in a variety of colors. We like it because it can be used for kids too (ages 7 and up). Its cover is shock resistant which is great if a child is going to use it. If there’s a battery issue, this pulse oximeter will let you know, but you do get a decent bit of battery life out of each battery. It’s going to measure your oxygen saturation levels, heart rate, and pulse strength.

Pros:
  • Works well for kids who need to check their oxygen levels
  • It's super convenient to see all readings with the click of one button
  • It's good at saving battery (it will power off if not in use)
Cons:
  • Finicky under non-ideal conditions

Check out this pulse oximeter buying guide to learn more about the different styles and what to look for in your device.

How Does a Pulse Oximeter Work?

In short, a pulse oximeter works by measuring the light that gets absorbed by oxygenated blood as it passes through your finger. Oxygenated blood is red. Deoxygenated blood is blue. Perhaps, thinking back to biology class helps? The pictures in textbooks often showed arteries and capillaries in red and veins in blue. That’s because the arteries and capillaries are carrying oxygenated blood. When you place the pulse oximeter on your finger, it transmits light through arterial blood to a photodetector. The light absorbed changes depending on the level to which your blood is saturated with oxygen.

Pulse Oximeter diagram Infrared lights, located on the pulse oximeter sensors, detect the amount of oxygen in your blood based on how the light is transferred through your finger ( Image Reference).

Maximize the Benefits of Using a Pulse Oximeter

There are several ways to treat conditions like COPD, asthma, and congestive heart failure. However, if you want to experience more improvement in your condition, follow your doctor’s instructions, use a pulse oximeter to track your oxygen saturation levels (adjust as need be), and try these tips:

  • Follow a healthy diet
  • Exercise appropriately (swimming can be great for people with asthma, because of the warm moist air, the breathing tubes aren’t as taxed)
  • Avoid lung irritants (smog, pollution, allergens, etc.)
  • Get your blood pressure under control
  • Eliminate salt
  • Eat a lot of potassium, fiber, complex carbohydrates (congestive heart failure)
  • Speak with a dietitian about specific dietary plans or strategies to address your condition

Common Pulse Oximeter Terms

Pulse Rate

  • Your heartbeat in beats per minute. This is also a reading found on many pulse oximeters. Most of the time people want to know their heart rate because it is a measure of how healthy and strong the heart is. Some people may want to know how their heart rate changes during exercise, how quickly it climbs or falls, etc. Your doctor may have more specific reasons for wanting to collect data on your heart rate.

Oxygen Saturation (SpO2)

  • This is the reading on your pulse oximeter. It tells you how saturated your blood is with oxygen.

Perfusion Index (PI)

  • This is the way that peripheral blood flow is measured. The explanation here can get more technical than is needed for the purposes of this article. But, it is worth noting that the PI can be a useful way to tell if your oxygen saturation level reading is reliable. Typically, if your PI is below .4%, your oxygen saturation reading is unreliable. Those with generally good health who are more interested in using their pulse oximeter to monitor exercise probably could get away without using a PI. A PI can drive the cost of a pulse oximeter up.

Pleth Variability Index (PVI)

  • Linked to the PI, this captures changes in the PI within a respiratory cycle.

Respiration Rate (RRp)

  • This measure reflects how many breaths you take each minute.

Learn more about pulse oximeter and low oxygen saturation levels  here.

Find the Best Pulse Oximeter for Home Use

Choosing a pulse oximeter is a wise decision if you want to learn more about your oxygen saturation levels during periods of activity and rest. It’s an especially wise investment for people with pulmonary conditions such as COPD and asthma. The best pulse oximeter for home use is the one you will feel comfortable using. Some come equipped to track data using apps. We especially like that. But, if you’re not tech savvy or have no interest in that feature, many pulse oximeters come with basic functions that are simple to use.  As always, taking care of your health, should always be taken seriously. If you haven’t already, speak with your doctor about your exact needs, and choose a pulse oximeter that's right for you.  Be sure to talk to your doctor about your readings and work towards becoming a healthier you!

Sources:

Jevon, P. (2000)  Pulse oximetry: 1. Practical procedures for nurses. Nursing Times 96: 27, 43-44.

https://www.healthcentral.com/article/pulse-oximetry-monitoring-do-you-need-it
http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/test_procedures/pulmonary/oximetry_92,P07754/

 

Amanda Ghosh
Amanda Ghosh

Amanda has a Masters of Science in Nutrition from Syracuse University which equipped her with courses applied to licensure as a dietitian. She also worked as a Program Director for the Wellness and Fitness Department for the YMCA. She is well versed in physical fitness, with a certificate from the National Academy of Sports Medicine in physical fitness training. She has taught numerous fitness classes, including college courses in the Athletic Department, as an adjunct instructor, at the SUNY University at Buffalo. She currently resides with her husband in the NYC area, and loves to put her knowledge of anatomy and physiology to use by being active. Both her and her husband are self-declared "foodies."



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