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Atherton, CA
A 29-year-old female asked:

should i buy a pulse oximeter to test myself at home if i think i have been exposed to covid-19 and its hard to get tested? at what % value should i get help, and what is a high quality brand that isnt too expensive?

8 doctor answers9 doctors weighed in
Dr. Rajendra Badgaiyan
Psychiatry 18 years experience
Sure, you can: If you have severe shortness of breath, you would know it. You do not have to measure it. However, a pulse oximeter is inexpensive. If it gives peace of mind, go for it. If the number is less than 93, you should seek help.
Dr. David Voran
Family Medicine 33 years experience
Yes: These devices are relatively inexpensive ($25 - $200) depending on connectivity. I firmly believe these types of devices along with a whole range of other devices such as AliveCor's Kardia, Blood pressure monitors, scales, and connected thermometers (Thermo, Kinsa) can certainly provide that extra objective information to help your doctor treat you. Yes. Go ahead and buy one.
Dr. Boris Ripa
Pediatrics 36 years experience
Pulse oximeter is : A good idea to buy. It will show hypoxia during disease and a good indicator to call 911 and go to the hospital. Oxygen saturation dropping less than 94-92 is the reason to use extra oxygen. All manufacturers sell pretty similar pulse oximeters.
Dr. Cynthia Bergmann
Obstetrics and Gynecology 42 years experience
Yes: Pulse oximeters are inexpensive and a great addition to any home medical kit. For COVID symptoms of shortness of breath or severe unrelenting headache, check your pO2 on the oximeter. It should be above 93% on room air. If it is falling below 90% contact your doctor for guidance on what to do next. Good luck and stay safe!
Dr. William Lewis
ENT and Head and Neck Surgery 51 years experience
Not a bad idea.: Normal values 95 to 100%. Would certainly call your doctor if 90 or under. Measures Oxygen saturation in the blood. Call also if shortness of breath or tight chest discomfort. Can check consumer reports for quality or recommendations from your physician.
Dr. Joseph Mansour
Specializes in Obstetrics and Gynecology
No: No need to buy one unless you have symptoms manifested mostly by difficulty in breathing. Then if that happens you need to go to hospital
Dr. Michael Segal
Family Medicine 42 years experience
A good idea: Even if you don't have a fever(typical fever is 100.4 F), then a decrease on a pulse oximeter ( normal is 96-98%) can be a sign of covid19. Most fitbits seem to measure this but are not as accurate as a pulse oximeter.
Dr. B Tandan
Dr. B Tandan answered
Urology 34 years experience
No: not necessary. if you have s.o.b. call e.r. or go there
Dr. Michael Segal
Family Medicine 42 years experience
Patients like to know they have some control and checking a pulse ox of which is used quite a bit in primary and specialists offices is not unreasonable to have at home, just like checking blood pressure at home. Not totally necessary but not a far stretch either.
Apr 29, 2020

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A 35-year-old female asked:

I bought an oximeter to have in the house to check our values...should we get COVID. My SpO2 readings are between 97 - 99. My SpO2 husbands readings are between 88 - 92. Should we be worried that his is so low?

2 doctor answers3 doctors weighed in
Dr. Heidi Fowler
Psychiatry 25 years experience
Pulse ox: "Normal arterial oxygen is approximately 75 to 100 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Values under 60 mm Hg usually indicate the need for supplemental oxygen. Normal pulse oximeter readings usually range from 95 to 100 percent. Values under 90 percent are considered low." REF: https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/hypoxemia/basics/definition/sym-20050930

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Last updated Apr 30, 2020

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