Pulse oximeters — which measure the concentration of oxygen in the blood — have been selling out online. The reason? People think they could help act as early warning devices for severe COVID-19.
TUESDAY, April 28, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Even though many Americans might not even know what pulse oximeters are, the tiny devices are flying off pharmacy shelves as high-risk folks worry about COVID-19.
That's because they perform a critical function, measuring the concentration of oxygen in the blood. How? Just clip the device onto a patient's finger for a reading.
A healthy blood level of "oxygen saturation" normally measures 95-100% on a pulse oximeter, and readings lower than 90% are considered dangerously low.
With shortness of breath a key symptom of severe COVID-19, many people are buying pulse oximeters as "early warning" devices to track their blood oxygen levels, in case they require supplemental oxygen in a hospital.
According to one recent report from CNN, by last Friday pulse oximeters were already sold out on websites of major drugstore chains CVS and Walgreens.