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Newswest 9 | Midland, Texas | newswest9.com

Local doctor weighs in on when to use a pulse oximeter

Dr. Saravanan says the devices can be helpful to a COVID-19 patient, under the right circumstances.

ODESSA, Texas — The pulse oximeter is a device that can be found at most pharmacies, but what is it, and how necessary can it be?

Pulse oximeters monitor blood oxygenation levels through the use of light ray technology according to Dr. Rohith Saravanan, Chief Medical Officer of ORMC.

"It's looking through the blood that is flowing through the capillaries at the tip of your finger", said Saravanan.

From hospital grade devices to over the counter devices, the data collected by oximeters can be valuable when looked at with the proper context.

"If COVID is affecting you and your lung is not able to put oxygen into the blood, your level will drop," said Dr. Saravanan. 

It's important to note, pulse oximeters in no way can test for COVID-19. Saravanan says that the device can't be used properly without proper context from a primary physician.

"I don't recommend that people just go out and buy pulse oximeters, that's useless information if it's not put into perspective of a certain disease process," said the doctor.

For those that are sick, and their lungs could be dealing with degenerative symptoms. Those curious about a pulse oximeter are advised to consult a medical professional, who may recommend one. 

Pulse oximeters range in price from $30 to hundreds of dollars.

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