You are feeling a bit under the weather. And you don’t know what you have.
In the past, that wouldn’t be a reason for much concern. But these days coming down with something is a lot different than it used to be. It can turn scary fast.
Is it a cold? Or the flu? Maybe it’s the coronavirus? Without a test, you can’t be sure. And in many places, those tests are still hard to come by.
Of course, you have to call your doctor. But in many cases patients… even those who are presumed to have the virus… are still being told to stay home and call back if there’s any change.
So you sit. You wait. And you STRESS OUT like never before.
But there’s a simple device called a pulse oximeter that may help ease your mind. It costs as little as $30 and just might give you a heads-up on when things could be taking a turn for the worse.
And it could tell you when it’s time to get help FAST.
Oxygen red flag means you need help in a hurry
You see, there’s a BIG problem with treating the coronavirus. Doctors still don’t know quite what it “looks like.” And it’s especially hard to spot when a case suddenly turns from mild or moderate to severe.
We know what to look for in OTHER respiratory illnesses. When it’s, say, flu or pneumonia, we know how to spot the signs that things are getting worse (or better). And we know what to do for each step along the way to stay safe and recover.
But with COVID-19, all bets are off. Since most cases “look” mild, many people are sent home to recover. And most do.
But some folks don’t bounce back. And unlike flu or pneumonia, it’s not always obvious when you’re not getting better. In fact, many patients even report feeling BETTER while their illness is actually getting WORSE due to a condition doctors call “silent hypoxia.”
That’s when your oxygen PLUNGES to dangerously low levels. But you don’t notice it because there aren’t any of the obvious breathing difficulties or shortness of breath you’d expect.
One doctor wrote in the New York Times that he’s had patients with no breathing difficulties whose lungs were actually rapidly filling with fluid and pus. And tests revealed their blood oxygen saturation levels were dipping as low as 50 percent when tested using a pulse oximeter.
Anything below 90 percent is considered bad, as vital organs can’t get the oxygen they need. And the low-80s is often an emergency. Yet these patients were below even those levels.
How a pulse oximeter could ease your mind
Now I’m not telling you this to frighten the living daylights out of you. In fact, just the opposite.
I’m sharing it, so you know the risk. And most importantly, because there is a way to help minimize that risk AND set your mind at ease at the same time.
There’s a little gadget called a pulse oximeter. It clips to your finger and measures your oxygen levels in a matter of seconds. They’re often around $50, but I’ve seen them as low as $30. You can get them online and in retail stores, including pharmacies.
Now, keep in mind a pulse oximeter is NOT a way to tell if you have coronavirus. It’s not going to protect you from infection or illness in any way. And it’s certainly not going to help you get better if you have the coronavirus or any other respiratory virus for that matter.
But if you DO get sick, a pulse oximeter gives you an instant way to monitor one of the telltale symptoms of a worsening respiratory infection. That way, you can call your doctor or get to a hospital sooner to get help if you ever need it.