The demand for smartwatches has increased as it serves a manifold purpose. But does it provide the same accuracy as a medical-grade sensor-based oximeter? Read on to know more if smartwatches can sync SpO2.
What exactly is SpO2?
SpO2, also known as oxygen saturation, measures the proportion of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in the blood compared to non-oxygen-carrying hemoglobin. The body cannot function properly unless there is a particular amount of oxygen in the blood. Extremely low levels of SpO2 might cause life-threatening symptoms.
Hypoxemia is the medical term for this disorder. Because of the blue (cyan) color it takes on, there is a visible effect on the skin known as cyanosis. Hypoxia (low oxygen levels in the blood) can develop from hypoxemia (low oxygen levels in the tissue). This process, as well as the distinction between the two circumstances, must be understood.
The Body’s Mechanisms for Maintaining Normal SpO2 Levels
To avoid hypoxia, it is critical to maintaining normal oxygen saturation levels. Fortunately, the body normally takes care of this on its own. Breathing is the most critical mechanism for the body to maintain healthy SpO2 levels. The lungs receive inhaled oxygen and attach it to hemoglobin, which transports the oxygen payload throughout the body.
At higher altitudes and during times of intense physiological stress (e.g., lifting weights or sprinting), the body’s oxygen requirements increase. The body can typically adapt to these increases as long as they are not too drastic.
SpO2 Levels in a “Normal” Range
Normal pulse oximeter readings range from 95 to 100 percent, according to the Mayo Clinic. Low values of less than 90% are considered low and signal the need for additional oxygen. Hypoxemia is the medical term for this illness, which causes significant shortness of breath, an elevated heart rate, and chest pain.
The “normal” SpO2 range of 95 percent to 100 percent does not apply to those with chronic lung diseases and other breathing issues. These people should always visit their doctor for advice on safe oxygen levels for their particular health situation. Having stated that below are some general SpO2 guidelines for people with acute respiratory problems and chronic diseases:
A SpO2 of 92 percent or less in a patient with acute respiratory illness (e.g., influenza) or breathing trouble (e.g., an asthma attack) may suggest the need for oxygen supplementation.
A SpO2 of 92 percent or less in a patient with stable chronic disease (e.g., COPD) should prompt referral for further examination of the necessity for long-term oxygen therapy.
How to Check Your Oxygen Level?
Medical professionals today have access to several SpO2 monitoring equipment, such as finger pulse oximeters. These small, noninvasive devices attach to the fingertip painlessly and deliver light wavelengths via the finger to measure SpO2 and pulse rate.
People with heart and breathing problems can use personal finger pulse oximeters to control their symptoms and analyze the success of treatment techniques under the supervision of their doctors.
The Usefulness of a Pulse Oximeter
Pulse oximeters have been around for a long time. However, until recently, they were mostly employed by healthcare establishments. Many people are curious about how they function now that they are reasonably prevalent in the home.
Pulse oximeters use light sensors to track how much blood carries oxygen and how much blood does not. To the human eye, oxygen-saturated hemoglobin appears brighter red than non-oxygen-saturated hemoglobin. This phenomenon allows the pulse oximeter’s very sensitive sensors to detect minute fluctuations in the blood and convert them into a measurement.
Pulse oximetry can be a helpful tool in decision-making, but it is not a replacement for a clinical examination or a diagnosis in and of itself. The gold standard for measuring oxygen saturation in arterial blood gas measurements acquired by an arterial puncture.
A personal finger pulse oximeter is made to be quick, reliable, and simple to use. Disposable sensors ensure the safety, find one from nellcor here. It only takes a few seconds for it to measure your current or to sync SpO2 and heart rate when you set it on any finger. However, not all pulse oximeters are created equal in terms of accuracy and adaptability.
Can Smartwatches Serve The Purpose?
Reflectance oximetry and transmittance oximetry are two non-invasive methods for measuring blood oxygen levels.
Reflectance oximetry is used in the smartwatch. Transmittance oximetry is used in standard oximeters to measure or sync SPO2 when a finger is inserted into them.
Transmittance oximetry employs sensors at both ends of the instrument. When a finger is inserted into an oximeter, the device’s one end generates light through a light source, which goes through the finger and hits the sensors on the other end. Photodiodes are the sensors in question. This sensor examines the light attributes — wavelength, for example — and calculates the SPO2 level based on the measurement.
The SPO2 is determined in reflectance oximetry, which is utilized in smartwatches and fitness bands by the light reflecting; find blood beneath the skin. This is because both the light-emitting and light reading sensors are on the same side. In other words, a smartwatch does not have a “transmitting” light measurement.
On An Ending Note
As a result, a good medical-grade oximeter will be more accurate and reliable at measuring sync SPO2 than, say, an expensive smartwatch. If you need to measure your SPO2 and don’t have access to a decent oximeter, utilize whatever gadget you have on hand.