Pulse oximeter: Which pulse oximeters work well for someone with COPD?

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Which pulse oximeters work well for someone with COPD?


I have COPD and would like to use a pulse oximeter. How do I determine which one will work best for me?

Our answer

A pulse oximeter (also known as a “Pulse Ox”) is a simple device that clips onto a fingertip or earlobe and measures the amount of oxygen carried in the blood. Pulse oximeters can be useful for people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), but should not replace a physician’s advice. Be sure to check with your doctor about whether a pulse oximeter is right for you. Here’s information on the COPD Canada website about finger pulse oximeters, what they do, and reasons why or why not to own one.

There are many different models of pulse oximeters available in the marketplace and, depending on the model you choose, there can be a few different readings that are displayed when you use the tool. It is important to read the device’s instructions carefully and speak to your physician if you have any questions about what you see. Your doctor will be able to teach you about normal ranges, and what to do if the readings are outside of these ranges (i.e. when to seek further help). Also, factors such as decreased blood flow to the region being monitored (fingertip or ear lobe), any motion of the device and battery strength can influence the device’s readings. So, again, talk to your doctor about what to look for.
You can also call the BC Lung Association for advice: 1-800-665-5864. A typical pulse oximeter will cost anywhere from about $15 to $400+ (Cdn). Below are some examples, which range from about $40 to $130:


Some technologies and devices may require an in-person assessment. Speak with your health care provider for additional information and support.

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