Does the Pulse Oximeter Belong in Your Home Health Monitoring Kit?
by: Dr. Robert L. Bard
Almost a year into the pandemic, we have seen waves of empty shelves of specific items due to panic shopping or the recent burst of proactive health trends. This reflects a significant part of "the Covid Culture"- comprising the demand for personal safety measures (beyond the holy trinity of masking, distancing and hand hygiene). A large part of our population also subscribes to proactive health measures in the home which includes a daily regimen of immune-boosting health supplements. In addition, more and more drug store shelves continue to stock up on self-check devices including the hand-held infrared THERMOMETERS, BLOOD PRESSURE CUFFS, SPIROMETERS and THE PULSE OXIMETER.
There are various schools of thought when it comes to this device. Physicians often use this as a preliminary for gathering a patient's vitals. Though highly useful for its quick and portable data-grab, common belief is that the oximeter is not relied upon for more than this. In fact, interviews with paramedics have recommended the use of the Capnograph vs. the Oximeter as a portable diagnostic for presence of lung disease and forms of congenital heart disease. 
The idea of home testing remains a valid protocol for wellness maintenance and prevention, and having a small arsenal of home testing devices (if used correctly) can certainly support this. Regular self-checks of one's circulatory performance strongly supports a lifestyle of safety and survivorship from the pandemic and disease in general. But nothing tops primary monitoring like watching for coughs, shortness of breath, muscle pain and loss of taste and smell .
The ARDS / Covid-19 Connection?
The widely promoted prevention protocols (of masking, distance and hand hygiene) have conditioned us all toward proactive health consciousness- driving us to want to learn more and stay in touch with the current pandemic updates. Public health agency sites like CDC.gov, NIH.gov and the WHO.int are some of the top sources for these updates, offering a comprehensive list of resources and the latest proven information on personal safety, care, prevention and treatment solutions.
Meanwhile, medical experts and societies have also joined this worldwide coalition for public awareness and info-sharing. One such association is the IDSA (Infectious Disease Society of America), a 50+ year old community of public health experts allied with major groups like the American Federation for Clinical Research (AFCR), the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), and the Association of American Physicians (AAP). The ISDA formed a branch called the Covid-19 Real-Time Learning Network, featuring a complete, well-maintained resource forum for the general public and the medical community. (see: link) This type of institutional resourcing brought full access to expert information, empowering the proactive researcher to a wider level of understanding- from current health news, updates on Covid safety guidelines and infection prevention.
Due to the many risks in outpatient care, I hope that my receiving the first dose and publicly promoting it will encourages cohorts, colleagues, patients and others to follow suit in registering to receive theirs. Pfizer, Moderna and so many others are reputable Biotech/Pharm companies with a long history of success in their respective field. This vaccine stands for so much today in the eye of public health and science. With the advancements in science, the opportunity to push forth with mRNA vaccines for other diseases and viruses sheds light on future health. With early work showing a 94/95% success rate, that demonstrates and presents an opportunity for those at risk for getting ill, or those at high risk due to comorbidities of getting ill a sense of hope and resolution. The question will be- for how long?
As for prevention and prophylaxis, constant hand washing and gloves have always been a part of my routine, however face masks will definitely become an everyday routine. I have always been an advocate for overall wellness and health. At present, I personally find comfort in taking daily multivitamins in addition to vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc, all of which “may help in supporting a healthy immune system. I encourage others to be sure to consult with their pharmacist to discuss possible interactions and to consider taking as well.
Image Source: Evan Ludin's Linkedin post
1) Yale Medicine: Should You Really Have a Pulse Oximeter at Home? By: K. Katella 5/8/2020 / https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/covid-pulse-oximeter
2) Capnography: Wikipedia source (link)
3) Front Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance / FAQ: https://covid19criticalcare.com/
4) Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/acute-respiratory-distress-syndrome
5) Yale Medicine: What is the relationship between COVID-19 and ARDS? https://www.yalemedicine.org/conditions/ards
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