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How to Ensure a Correct Pulse Oximeter Reading

Finger Pulse Oximeter

Make sure the pulse oximeter is properly attached to your finger for an accurate reading.

When you are measuring your oxygen saturation level and pulse using a finger oximeter, it’s important to ensure the reading is correct. Certain conditions may cause the oximeter to give an inaccurate reading. A good way to double check the accuracy of a pulse oximeter reading is to check your pulse manually and compare the two readings.

Abnormal Pulse Oximeter Readings

Some common reasons for an inaccurate oximeter reading include the following:

  • Nail polish – Remove polish or artificial nails before using the oximeter.
  • Excessive movement – Remain as still as possible while taking an oximeter reading.
  • Incorrect attachment – Make sure the probe is properly attached to your finger.
  • Restricted blood flow – Pressure on the arms or fingers can restrict blood flow and affect the measurement of your oxygen saturation.
  • Cold fingers – Poor circulation to the extremities can affect oximeter readings. Warm your hands and fingers before taking your pulse.

Other factors that can affect the pulse oximeter readings include the following:

  • Electomagnetic waves from electric appliances or medical devices
  • Excessively bright light
  • Hypothermia or extremely cold fingers
  • Anemia
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Certain types of seizures
  • Shock resulting from blood loss or poor perfusion
  • Abnormal hemoglobin
  • Medical dyes

If your pulse oximeter reading is abnormally high or low, make sure you are following all recommended procedures for taking a pulse measurement and try checking your levels again.

Normal Blood Oxygen Saturation Levels

The normal range for blood oxygen saturation is between 96% and 100%. If your oxygen saturation level is below 90%, seek medical help immediately, as these levels could quickly lead to life-threatening complications. Levels between 90% and 95% may signify a less severe hypoxia and require immediate action to prevent a more severe case of hypoxia.

Pulse Oximeter Readings

Finger Pulse Oximeter

A normal pulse oximeter reading is between 96 and 100 percent.

What does a pulse oximeter measure?

A finger pulse oximeter is primarily used to measure blood oxygen saturation and pulse rate. Since it provides a continuous reading of these measurements, an oximeter allows the user to detect changes in the oxygen level and heart rate as they occur.

What makes the pulse oximeter so popular?

This device is non-invasive and does not require a blood draw to determine the oxygen saturation level. It has also been approved for use outside of the medical environment. Athletes, mountain climbers, and patients with heart trouble or other medical problems can monitor their blood oxygen levels no matter where they are. This convenience can cut down on the number of doctor visits needed and alert the user to the need to seek medical help before their condition becomes life-threatening.

How do I know if my pulse oximeter reading is normal?

The normal range for blood oxygen saturation is between 96% and 100%. Anything below a reading of 90% could signify danger and quickly lead to life-threatening complications. Seek medical help if your blood oxygen level approaches 90% or lower. Make sure to follow all directions for using the pulse oximeter to ensure that the reading is correct. If your oximeter returns an abnormal reading, check it again to make sure the reading is accurate.

How to Use a Finger Pulse Oximeter

Finger pulse oximeter

Insert the index finger fully into the device.

Several medical devices traditionally used only in hospitals and clinics, such as blood pressure monitors, have now become available for home use. The finger pulse oximeter is one of these devices, allowing you to monitor your oxygen saturation level at home. Its compact size is small enough to fit in your pocket or purse for on-the-go monitoring.



The following instructions apply to most finger pulse oximeters designed for home use; however, be sure to read the instruction manual for your specific oximeter before attempting to use it.

  1. First, press the power button to turn on the unit.
  2. Pinch the oximeter open and insert a finger (preferably the index finger) into the unit, as far back as it will go. Make sure the fingernail is facing in the same direction as the digital display.
  3. Keep as still as possible while the oximeter measures your oxygen level. Any movement may affect the accuracy of the reading.
  4. Read the display for Sp02 measurements, pulse rate, and other measurements taken by the device.

Although the oxygen saturation level varies with age, fitness, altitude, medical condition, and other factors, the optimal saturation for a young, healthy, and fit individual is 95 – 99%. Consult your health practitioner to determine the optimal oxygen saturation level for you.

Tips for Using a Finger Pulse Oximeter:

  • For accuracy in comparing finger oximeter readings over time, always use the same finger for testing.
  • Fingernail polish may affect the accuracy of the reading. Remove fingernail polish before testing.
  • Cold fingers and a faint pulse may affect the accuracy of the reading. Warm up the hands and fingers before attempting to measure the oxygen level.
  • Very small or very large fingers may cause inaccurate readings. Use a different finger if possible, and make sure the finger is inserted all the way into the probe to ensure that the reading is as accurate as possible.

Finger Pulse Oximeter – New from Roll Mobility

Finger Pulse Oximeter and Carry Case

Finger Pulse Oximeter and Carry Case

New from Roll Mobility! The Finger Pulse Oximeter is an ultra-compact, portable unit that monitors pulse rate and blood saturation level. The sensor is highly accurate for reliable readings every time.


This oximeter includes 6 display settings, featuring a bar graph, waveform, and 90 degree screen rotation at the touch of a button for easy reading from any angle.

The large digital display reports continuous readings as long as a finger is inserted in the device. A few seconds after the finger is removed from the device, the oximeter shuts off automatically to conserve battery power. You can adjust the brightness of the screen display by holding down the power button.

A hard carry case is included for safe keeping, and a bonus neck lanyard keeps the oximeter within easy reach. Two AAA batteries (not included) are used to power the device for up to 20 hours of battery life. The included user manual provides information and safety precautions for operating this device.

Oximeters are useful for a variety of settings and activities, including the following:

  • Hospitals, clinics, and medical facilities
  • Doctors’ offices
  • Retirement homes
  • Home health care patients
  • Aerobic and anaerobic exercise
  • Athletic sports
  • Climbing sports

This finger pulse device offers a variety of information, including heart rate, oxygen saturation level, and complete plythesmograph and waveforms. As an FDA listed and CE approved device, you can rest assured of its accuracy and quality.

The finger pulse oximeter from Roll Mobility is designed for professional or home use. Now available for only $59.99. Get free shipping on all orders within the lower 48 states.