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Does anyone use a pulse oximeter at home?

I've had asthma attacks in the past but it's hard to tell how severe it is while I'm having one and when I should get help.  I was thinking about using a pulse oximeter to check my O2 levels during an attack and was wondering if anyone else does that and if it's effective?  

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  • Kathy P

    I use one. I have cough variant asthma and my peak flows don't drop til it's really bad and I don't wheeze. So it's hard to tell when things are getting bad.I bought a pulse-ox on Amazon and I've found that it gives me useful data. Sometimes my O2 sats will drop and often my pulse will shoot up.If you think one might be useful, talk with your doc about what to look for and what it means. I tracked mine for a while with other symptoms and med usage and took that with me to the doc.

  • K8sMom2002

    My mom used a pulse-ox, and it really helped us put some numbers to her symptoms. Each patient is different, and each doctor will tailor recommendations about what oxygen levels are concerning based on the individual. 

    I've used her pulse-ox myself, because, like Kathy, my asthma is more "cough-variant" in nature, and my wheezing isn't always heard without a stethoscope. 

    Another thing I would recommend is to go over your with your doctor. You can customize the plan so that you know what your doctor considers your green, yellow and red zones, and so you will be more confident on dealing with your asthma on a day-to-day basis. 

  • Pljohns

    I used one-I don't wheeze at all and frequently have issues with OK peak flows.  The first time I was in the  hospital, I talked to my pulmo about it and she said definitely-especially during/after a flare.  Got mine on Amazon too-actually have 2-my first one was like 4 years old and she said they will loose their effectiveness and over time the technology improves so they are more accurate.  I bought a new one as soon as I got out of the hospital, compared them and she was right-there was a pretty good difference in the readings.

  • WarrensMom

    We got ours at CVS, it can be purchased with an FSA account under most plans.  I use it to gauge if my son's treatments are working or if we need to escalate his treatment protocols.

  • K8sMom2002

    PLJohn, I had no idea about a pulse-ox losing its effectiveness. We still use my mom's and she passed away in 2009! Yikes! Looks like I need to invest in a new one. 

    WarrensMom, that's a great way to help you determine which zone your kiddo is in! I've done that as well with my DD and with me. What pulse-ox reading does your doctor say correlates with the green, yellow and red zones? Or do you look for improved 02 readings?

  • WarrensMom

    I don't use it too much for zone readings, once I start suspecting we're in yellow I will try to get him to let me use it! (he thinks its his watch).  I mostly just look for improvement once we've started albuterol.

  • Kathy P

    Welcome to posting WarrensMom! That's good to know that you can use FSA $$. I always forget about that for stuff like this.

    And Pljohns, I didn't know that they lose effectiveness. Will have to keep that in mind.

    I first used one when I was visiting my brother. He has COPD and has one to check things. I was playing with it and found that my O2 was low   I react to their cat, but I wasn't feeling any issues with my breathing, just my nasal allergies and itching. It was after that when I started piecing things together.

  • K8sMom2002

    WarrensMom, it is great that you have a concrete way to see whether things are improving. I will have to talk with DD's doctors and see if we can come up with readings that will tell me the same thing. The pulse ox is something you can't argue with!

  • sidghatak

    Thank you so much for all of your replies, the information you've shared is greatly appreciated, I'll be ordering one right away!

  • Jen

    Hi Sid – Welcome to AAFA's asthma forum.  Let us know which pulse ox you end up ordering.

    Warren's mom – Welcome to posting.  Do you keep a log of your son's pulse ox readings?

  • K8sMom2002

    @sidghatak, I was wondering if you had gotten your pulse ox yet and if you feel it's helping?

    @WarrensMom, do you have any other tips or tricks that you could share?

  • Jen

    Who else uses a pulse oximeter at home?  What brand and model do you use?

  • Pljohns

    I do-it doesn't have a brand on it, but I got it from Amazon-think I paid about $20 for it. My pulmonologist told me to replace it every 2-3 years because they get better and better and they older they are, the more unreliable they are.  I keep 2-one at work and one at home.  When I have problems, I can at least keep up with o2 sat's and can tell my pulmo where they are holding at.

  • Kathy P

    I got mine on Amazon too. It says "Face Lake" on it, so I assume that's the brand  It wasn't expensive. The issue I'm having is with my rechargeable batteries. I think they are just weak and don't seem to hold a charge. I need to get new ones or just get regular AAA batteries.

  • Jen

    Kathy – Did you ever switch out the batteries on the pulse ox?  Did it help?

  • Kathy P

    I did and things seem to be more consistent. Dh bought a huge pack of AAA batteries at Costco, so no more rechargable ones.

  • Pljohns

    Kathy-glad that seemed to help your problem with your pulse of.  I've never tried rechargeable ones-and from your experience, I won't!

  • Kathy P

    They were old batteries and we had a lot of issues with them losing their ability to hold a charge. We have newer style ones that have not had that issue. Just don't have AAA.

  • K8sMom2002

    How long do your AAA batteries last, Kathy? I've noticed with more recent electronics, batteries seem to be lasting longer, which is a nice change.

    @WarrensMom, have you had to use yours with your kiddo lately? Is it a wrist model?

    @sidghatak, did you ever take the plunge and buy a pulse ox? 

  • RedCoog

    When I started to feel symptoms and reading about possible disease I decided to get one from a local drug store!

    its hard for me to correlate my 02 levels to my symptoms, but maybe it's because I'm usually above 97%; lucky!!!

    When I visit my doctor I've taken my meter and it usually reads a bit below my Docs (I'm usually 99-100 with their meters)! But I've read that the good measure it's to try and do some minor excersice while both the doctor's meter and your home version are on to see if the track similarly!

  • K8sMom2002

    I'd never thought of that idea, @RedCoog! Thanks for sharing! I find it very reassuring when I'm having a bad flare if my 02 readings are good. One thing that tracking your readings when you're not having a flare and when you are having a flare can do is help you determine what's your "normal."