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Home > Health Library > Pulse oximeter
A pulse oximeter is a device that checks to see how much oxygen your blood is carrying.
Usually a small clip is put on the end of your finger. (Sometimes it's put on your toe or earlobe.) The device shines a light beam through the skin. It estimates your oxygen level by measuring the percentage of your blood that's carrying oxygen. Your oxygen level (or oxygen saturation, SpO2) shows on the display screen.
Pulse oximeters are used in doctors' offices and hospitals. Your doctor may think it's a good idea to use one at home. This may be the case for people who have a condition that affects their oxygen levels. Examples include people who have long-term heart or lung problems or an infection like COVID-19. Choose a device that has been approved to give accurate readings. Talk to your doctor if you want help choosing one.
Current as of: July 6, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Heather Quinn MD - Family Medicine & Lesley Ryan MD - Family Medicine & Hasmeena Kathuria MD - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine
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