Pregnant & Concerned About COVID-19? 5 Tips to Monitor Your Health With a Pulse Oximeter During the Coronavirus Pandemic by Dr. Alan Lindemann
Women naturally monitor their health and well-being throughout pregnancy, but they need to watch it even more closely during a pandemic. Hypoxemia – a below-normal level of oxygen in your blood – is one of the signs of serious illness with coronavirus (COVID-19). You can pick up a pulse oximeter for around $50 and take regular readings of your pulse and oxygen saturation.
Get a baseline so that you know if something looks off. A baseline for healthy people is 90 or higher. Most healthy young people have an O2 sat of 97, 98 or 99. When we see below 90, we start getting concerned. This doesn't take the place of going to the doctor; it tells you when to get to the doctor. With COVID-19, blood oxygen levels change very fast, so you really need one of these things at home.
Here are five tips on monitoring your health with a pulse oximeter:
- A pulse oximeter checks your blood oxygen level and it also checks your pulse.
- Take a reading two to three times daily (but don’t worry about waking in the night to check).
- Getting a baseline measurement for yourself helps you know what’s normal and what’s unusual for you. For example, if you're a person who ordinarily runs a 99 and you're running a 91, that's bad. If you ordinarily run a 93 and you're running at 91, that's not bad. Find your baseline, and make sure you’re staying within a few points on either side of it.
- Most people rush to the ER with shortness of breath from COVID-19, but the pulse oximeter will alert you to your low oxygen levels BEFORE you experience shortness of breath. Don’t wait until you can’t breathe; by the time you're short of breath, your illness is a lot harder to treat. Check your oxygen levels throughout the day and stay on the safe side.
- Extreme changes in your pulse are another reason to call your doctor, and the pulse oximeter will give you that information, too. Normal pulses can range from 60 to 100 depending on the person. For example, if you usually have a pulse around 70 and it shoots up to 90, call your doctor.
What if you don’t have a pulse oximeter handy? What other signs of low oxygen levels can you look for? See what Dr. Alan has to say in this short video.
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