THIS £20 gadget could spot whether you’re at risk of developing severe Covid-19 by simply being clipped onto your finger nail or earlobe.
Some patients who contract the virus experience a dangerously low drop in blood oxygen levels, a condition also known as “happy hypoxia“, and these levels can be monitored by an oximeter.
Oximeters are used to measure blood oxygen levels
The gadget is easy to use and one doctor is urging every one to invest in one.
Patients with happy hypoxia will display oxygen levels low enough to cause death or unconsciousness.
Earlier on in the pandemic, patients attending A&E in the UK had been presenting with oxygen percentage levels in the 80s or 70s and some have even had levels below 50 per cent.
A healthy person would have at least 95 per cent oxygen saturation, this is considered a normal rate.
If it falls between 92 and 94 per cent then you should see a GP as this would be classed as “concerning” to health professionals.
If it consistently remains below 92 per cent then you should call 999.
The small oximeter devices are being rolled out to high-risk Covid patients across the UK so they can monitor their levels from the comfort of their own home.
In England they are being given to patients over the age of 65 who have health problems – or anyone doctors may have concerns about due to underlying health conditions.
These patients are being asked to measure and record their levels three times a day.
Around a third of coronavirus patients have no symptoms at all, making it even harder to spot if if you have contracted the illness.
The NHS states that the three main signs of Covid-19 are a loss of taste and smell (anosmia), a new persistent cough and a high temperature.
If you have any of these symptoms you should get a test and self-isolate.
Other people who have contracted the virus have however experienced a range of symptoms such as fatigue, headaches and breathlessness.
Covid-19 is a virus that attacks the lungs, which is why some people feel breathless and in some cases, end up on ventilation to help them breathe.
The virus can cause oxygen levels to fall.
How to check your oxygen levels
Dr Chase Ng Peng Yun, a junior doctor, explains how you can monitor your oxygen levels at home.
To measure your oxygen levels you need to buy an oximeter then follow the below steps.
- If you are going to use the device on your finger, clean your nails and make sure any polish or varnish, as well as false nails, are removed
- Turn the oximeter on and ensure that light shining between the clips
- If using on your nail, clip the device onto your finger
- If using on your ear, then clip to your earlobe
- Make sure the light shines through the nail bed or earlobe
- The reading will be displayed in a few seconds
- One the monitor has stabilised then take the reading
The key to finding your oxygen levels can be found in the earlobes and the finger nails.
This is because devices used to monitor these levels has to be clipped to either your earlobe or your finger nails in order to get a reading.
Oximeters can be used to measure these levels and can costs around £20.
The sensors are painless and shine a light on your nail or earlobe -this then measures how much oxygen is in your blood.
It measures the total amount your blood can carry and is marked out of 100.
Dr Inada-Kim, the national clinical lead for the Covid [email protected] project said these devices are being given out in order to monitor patients across the country.
The devices can be attached to the finger tip or the earlobe to get a reading Credit: Alamy Live News
Speaking to BBC Inside Health he said: “The point of this whole strategy is to try to get in early to prevent people getting that sick, by admitting patients at a more salvageable point in their illness.”
He added that while there was no proof that the gadgets save lives, the early signs from the rollout are all positive.
He said: “What we think we can see are the early seeds of a reduction in the length of stay after a hospital admission, an improvement in survival and a reduction in the pressures on the emergency services.
“Personally I would, and I know a number of colleagues who have bought pulse oximeters to distribute to their loved ones.”
Pharmacies and other companies sell the gadgets and Dr Kim added that if you’re thinking of buying one then you need to make sure it has a CE Kitemark on it.
He also said you should avoid apps on smartphones which are not as reliable.
The experts behind the Covid Symptom Study app say that if you have Covid then a medical expert could give you the device to use at home so that you can monitor your blood oxygen levels.
The levels recorded can then help determine whether or not you need to go to the hospital.
The experts state: “Be wary of buying a pulse oximeter online or relying on the oxygen monitoring function of a smartwatch (sometimes known as the SpO2 sensor) as these may not be accurate.
“If it is between 92 and 94 percent, seek advice from your GP or call NHS 111.
“If it remains below 92 percent, visit the nearest Accident & Emergency (A&E) or call 999 for an ambulance. Make sure you tell the medical team that you have or may have Covid-19.”