Insights

What Is a Pulse Oximeter

By Jason Sims October 25, 2018

What Is a Pulse Oximeter?

A pulse oximeter is a small, lightweight device used to monitor the amount of oxygen carried in the body. This noninvasive tool attaches painlessly to your fingertip, sending two wavelengths of light through the finger to measure your pulse rate and how much oxygen is in your system. Once the oximeter finishes its assessment, its screen will display the percent of oxygen in your blood coming from your heart—as well as your current pulse rate. Here’s a basic description of each of these readings and how they affect you:
Blood Oxygen Saturation (SpO2)
Your SpO2 reading is an estimation of the amount of oxygen in your blood. An SpO2 reading of 95% or greater is generally considered to be a normal oxygen level. However, an SpO2 reading of 92% or less (at sea level) suggests that your blood is poorly saturated. Insufficient saturation can cause a range of adverse health conditions—including chest pain, shortness of breath and increased heart rate.
Pulse Rate
Your pulse rate is an estimation of the number of times your heart contracts per minute. According to the Mayo Clinic, normal pulse rate values for adults range from 60 to 100 beats per minute (bpm).In general, a lower heart rate at rest implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness. For most people, a pulse rate below 60 bpm indicates abnormally slow heart action, also known as bradycardia. Bradycardia can cause a number of problematic symptoms—including fainting, fatigue, chest pains and memory problems.
A pulse oximeter gives you accurate insights on your SpO2 and pulse rate within a matter of seconds, empowering you to respond quickly and confidently to abnormal readings. As a result, many people with adverse heart and breathing conditions invest in personal oximeters for in-home use.
Note: SpO2 and pulse rate measurements outside the normal range aren’t always a sign of health problems. For example, your heart rate can be expected to increase during exercise, and oxygen saturation may decrease slightly (it should still remain at 90% or greater).
Personal Finger Pulse Oximeters
Since being invented by Nonin in 1995, the finger pulse oximeter has expanded the availability of pulse oximetry to include at-home patient monitoring. People with heart or breathing problems can rely on personal finger pulse oximeters to help them manage these conditions under physician guidance. For example, individuals with asthma can leverage personal oximeters to assess the severity of attacks and exacerbations. Accurate pulse rate and SpO2 readings are particularly important for patients who are physically active or experiencing frequent drops in oxygen levels.
For people with COPD, asthma or other lung diseases who want to stay active, the quality of their pulse oximeter is incredibly important. Fast, reliable oximeter readings play an essential role in helping patients adjust their oxygen flow when exercising, participating in social activities or spending time at home. High-quality monitoring devices can also help physicians with monitoring the efficacy of treatment efforts and respond quickly if the condition worsens. That’s why people spanning the nation count on Nonin’s leading-edge finger pulse oximeters for personal use.
Nonin Personal Pulse Oximeters
Since 1986, Nonin has been developing world-class pulse oximetry equipment for clinicians, first responders and in-home patients. Our flexible monitoring devices are built for repeated daily use in the most challenging patient environments imaginable, bringing simplicity and dependability to your self-monitoring efforts.
If you want to monitor your oxygen levels and pulse rate in-home or on the move, Nonin has options for you. Our GO2™ pulse oximeter is available with a prescription from a medical professional, or you can buy the Nonin GO2™ Achieve without a prescription. These portable monitoring devices are highly durable and easy to use, even when exercising or traveling. They provide responsive and precise readings in a range of conditions, and feature:
Proven Performance
Nonin PureLight® sensors produce a high-intensity pure light spectrum, which eliminates variations in readings for consistent measurements time after time.
Unrivaled Versatility
The Nonin GO₂ provides reliable results even in the presence of challenging monitoring conditions (such as low perfusion and dark skin tones), making it a suitable monitoring tool for almost any patient.
Peerless Durability
The Nonin GO₂ can withstand repeated use and multiple drops without compromising on performance, making it one of the most durable self-monitoring oximeters in the industry.

Comparison Superiority. In a side-by-side comparison, Nonin GO2™ accurately tracked a person’s oxygen level decrease from 98% to 74% while a primary competitor only tracked down to 95%.
“My Nonin GO₂ works reliably and accurately compared to readings at my doctor’s office and with my physical therapist.”—Doug M., Texas
“I take care of my father who has COPD. The Nonin GO₂ is very easy to operate and totally accurate when compared at the physician’s office”—Alisa M., Virginia
Count on Nonin for Dependable Self-Monitoring Solutions
If you’re interested in learning more about Nonin and our best-in-class self-monitoring devices, then be sure to call or message us today. Our team can provide all the resources and support you need to find the best personal pulse oximeter for your lifestyle.