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Revisiting last weeks Examiner article on the increase in demand for Pulse Oximeters during the COVID-9 pandemic

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

Increase in demand for Pulse Oximeters during Covid-19


A pulse oximeter is a small electronic device that fits on your finger to estimate blood oxygen saturation. It is non-invasive and painless. 95% to 100% indicates appropriate oxygen levels in our blood. 92% or lower may indicate a cause for concern.


Why are these devices suddenly getting so much attention?

COVID-19 can cause COVID pneumonia; an infection in which the lung's air sacs can fill with fluid. Someone infected with novel coronavirus might be in the early stages of COVID pneumonia in which symptoms includes a drop in blood oxygen level without experiencing any difficulty breathing initially. In such cases, a pulse oximeter may signal to a health professional that a patient needs more urgent treatment before more serious symptoms show. It can be a good tool to predict complications if used in the right hands.


Why are they used?

Medical professionals like doctors and nurses use pulse oximeters just as you might have a thermometer to track fevers. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, like weakness, muscle aches or fever, it can be used to measure blood oxygen levels. A 92% figure (or lower) may be a sign you need supplemental oxygen meaning you should get evaluated by a health professional.


Why they must be used appropriately?

Whelehans Pharmacies provide Pulse Oximeters for medical professionals and care settings; while we offer them for sale to the public, they are not always advised for the general public and if used should be used properly; for example, wearing nail varnish can affect results. So, if you plan to use one, follow proper guidance. If you use and get "false results" you can end up causing yourself unnecessary stress yourself and can end up wasting the time of your GP and other health professionals, or worse it may put you off seeking treatment when you do in fact need it. Speak to our pharmacist if you want advice or if you want more details. WHO have guidance on pulse oximeters at


Written by Eamonn Brady (Pharmacist) as a result of the many enquiries we have had regarding Pulse Oximeters as a result of this crisis. Like all PPE, if not used properly, it can cause more issues than solutions. Our pharmacists can advise further.


Whelehans Pharmacies, 38 Pearse St and Clonmore, Mullingar. Tel 04493 34591 (Pearse St) or 04493 10266 (Clonmore).


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