A pulse oximeter is a device that will give you a reading of your blood oxygen level, without needing to draw blood or do any other sort of testing. Most pulse oximeters work quickly and hug your index finger for a few seconds to give you a reading. For someone with COPD, who will likely have a low blood oxygen level, having one of these at your disposal can mean the difference of you only needing to visit the doctor, or a trip to the emergency room.
A low blood oxygen reading can be a warning sign of an oncoming COPD exacerbation. An exacerbation can be very dangerous, lead to admittance into the hospital, worsening of your condition in general and even death in a severe case of COPD. Taking a reading of your blood oxygen level every day can help prevent this from happening.
You need to be aware, however, that buying a pulse oximeter at a very low price from a dealer might not be the best thing to do. In most cases, the lower the price on one of these, the better chance you have of the pulse oximeter giving you an inaccurate reading, or not working at all not longer after you buy it. The best thing you can do is save up, and buy one from a well established medical supply company at a higher price. As with most types of home medical equipment, buying a more expensive item is much safer and will prevent problems and headaches.
Check out the company's return policy, and see how long you will have to return your pulse oximeter and get a full refund. Aside from a 30 day return policy from they day you receive your pulse oximeter, you might also be offered a 1 or 2 year warranty, especially if you buy one of the more pricier ones.
When shopping for your pulse oximeter, another thing to look for is what kind of battery powering it. Only buy one that is powered by batteries that you can easily replace, such as A or AA batteries, not any sort of ion battery that can be expensive.
Within the 30 days of buying your pulse oximeter, take it to your a health care professional, so you can learn what readings are normal and at what point does it start to become something to worry about. You should also compare the reading of your pulse oximeter to the one at the doctors office to see if it is accurate. If the device you bought works as well as the one at the doctors office and you know how to use and read it, you can keep it, but still keep the receipt.
Keep track of your blood oxygen level by doing a reading with your pulse oximeter every day, and record the readings. If the numbers begin to drop, go see your doctor as soon as you can. Remember the things that can interfere with a reading, a nail polish on the nails or any type of paint or pigment, or fingers that are very cold. Keep some spare batteries handy to quickly replace the old ones.