According to Healthdirect, a pulse oximeter may monitor Covid-19 symptoms by reading your oxygen level. In doing so, you may know when to contact your general practice for a review or call 000 for an ambulance. Aside from Covid-19, a pulse oximeter is also used to detect Hypoxemia, another health problem considered a cause of concern. Fortunately, there are first aid, available further treatments in hospitals, and prevention tips to deal with both Covid-19 and Hypoxia. The below details will further discuss these items including information on whether a pulse oximeter is accurate and should be relied on to detect such health problems.
A Pulse Oximeter
A separate article discusses what an oximeter is that gathers information from the following reliable resources:
- NPS MedicineWise – a not-for-profit organisation established in 1998 connected with health consumers and health professionals found throughout Australia.
- Healthdirect – Australia’s national virtual public health information service supported by the government and other agencies.
- The Guardian – launched in 2013 to be the Australian website of the British global online and print newspaper, The Guardian.
All of these websites explain the function of a pulse oximeter to help us understand why it may be used in detecting Covid-19 symptoms.
The Covid-19 Symptoms
The Australian Government’s Department of Health and Aged Care has listed the Covid-19 symptoms which they mention are similar to some typical illnesses like:
The government’s fact sheet may help determine if the symptoms you experience are of Covid-19.
Why a Pulse Oximeter is Used in Covid-19 Detection?
According to an article written by Laurel Wamsley for NPR, someone who is possibly infected with Covid-19 may have a drop in blood oxygen level. This may occur in the early stages of COVID pneumonia without the symptom of difficulty in breathing.
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Using a Pulse Oximeter for Covid-19
Healthdirect lists the step-by-step instructions on testing your oxygen using a pulse oximeter. Once you get a reading, you may then follow the below actions suggested by the same website which depend on the percentage of oxygen levels:
- 95% or higher – no further action is suggested as it is the ideal blood oxygen level.
- 93 -94% – more frequent check-ups with your GP as it may indicate you have moderate COVID-19 symptoms.
- 92% or less – calling 000 for an ambulance is advised as it may mean you have severe COVID-19 symptoms.
Such readings may also be affected by an individual’s age and health conditions according to Healthdirect, a website connected to Australia’s health system and industry.
The Department of Health and Aged Care suggests doing the following to help prevent the transmission of the Covid-19 virus:
- Good hygiene.
- Wearing face masks.
- Physical distancing
This department work with a wide range of stakeholders in delivering policies and programs regarding health, aged care, and sport for the country.
Using a Pulse Oximeter for Hypoxia
Hypoxia may also be detected by a pulse oximeter according to myDr Australia, which explains here how it’s possible. It is a health and wellness website that complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information.
What Hypoxia Is?
The below websites explain what hypoxia is in detail:
- Ausmed – a group of educators and software engineers that provide CPD education for health professionals.
- Epilepsy Action Australia – is a registered charity that provides resources and information regarding epilepsy.
- WebMD – is an organisation composed of board-certified physicians and award-winning journalists that provide credible health information.
These websites describe Hypoxia as a dangerous condition as it occurs when there is a lack of oxygen to the tissues and organs, including the brain.
WebMD states that when hypoxia occurs, the brain, liver, and other organs may be damaged minutes after symptoms start which they also list and consider to be different in each person.
A severe asthma attack is the first mentioned cause of hypoxia among other things listed by WebMD.
Managing asthma with the help of a treatment plan is considered the best way of preventing Hypoxia by WebMD.
Fortunately, the below organisations exist that provide reliable information on managing asthma:
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – an independent statutory Australian Government agency producing authoritative and accessible information and statistics.
- National Asthma Council Australia – the national authority for asthma knowledge, setting the standard for asthma care.
The Asthma First Aid
The National Asthma Council Australia has released details about asthma first aid for children under and over 12 years old. In addition, training.gov.au has released details about the 22556VIC – Course in the Management of Asthma Risks and Emergencies in the Workplace that allows its graduates to:
- Develop an asthma management strategy.
- Provide asthma-related first aid interventions.
Training.gov.au is the National Register on Vocational Education and Training (VET) in Australia which also states that this asthma first aid course may only be delivered by Registered Training Organisations (RTOs). Such organisations like CPR First Aid (RTO NO 21903) have the approved scope of doing so as required by national and jurisdictional legislation within Australia.
CPR First Aid (RTO NO 21903)
This first aid training provider has been registered since 2007 under The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), the national regulator for vocational education and training in the country. It has the approved scope of delivering first aid courses like the current 22556VIC – Course in the Management of Asthma Risks and Emergencies in the Workplace which supersedes and is equivalent to 22282VIC.
Duration of the Asthma First Aid Course
The 22556VIC – Course in the Management of Asthma Risks and Emergencies in the Workplace is delivered by CPR First Aid (RTO NO 21903) for 1.5 hours. It is a combined first aid course with the 22578VIC Course in First Aid Management of Anaphylaxis that lasts for another 1.5 hours.
The Perth training location found at 123C Colin St. West Perth 6005 holds public and private first aid classes. A company’s workplace may also hold customised first aid training designed by CPR First Aid (RTO NO 21903) specifically for its staff through a private booking.
Accuracy of a Pulse Oximeter
The accuracy of a pulse oximeter’s reading has been long known to be affected by many factors and so it may over or under-estimate oxygen saturation. It is not advised to be used in isolation as an indicator of the severity of a patient’s illness by The Department of Health and Aged Care which discusses the limitations of pulse oximeters here.
Other Methods of Covid-19 and Hypoxia Detection
The same government department states that below are the types of COVID-19 tests:
- Polymerase chain reaction (PCR, or RT-PCR).
- Rapid antigen self-tests (RATs).
On the other hand, Partial pressure of oxygen (PO2) is another method to measure oxygenation which is linked to Hypoxia according to my Dr Australia.
A pulse oximeter reads oxygen levels which may indicate if you have moderate to severe Covid-19 symptoms. An ideal reading is 95% or higher while anything below it may suggest a need for more frequent check-ups with your GP or a call to an ambulance. Fortunately, there is still a chance to avoid these by following the government’s Covid-19 prevention tips. A pulse oximeter is also used in detecting hypoxia, a dangerous condition that occurs when there is a lack of oxygen in the tissues and organs, including the brain. It is caused by several factors like asthma, which may be managed by following guidelines available on the websites of asthma-related organisations in Australia. There is also an asthma first aid course that allows its graduates to acquire the skills and knowledge in developing an asthma management strategy and providing first aid responses. This is a course delivered by Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) like CPR First Aid (RTO NO 21903). Meanwhile, a pulse oximeter may over or under-estimate oxygen saturation so it is not advised to be used in isolation as an indicator of the severity of a patient’s illness. Other tests to detect Covid-19 and Hypoxia are available which may be more accurate than a pulse oximeter.