Back in May I decided I wanted a pulse oximeter handy just to check my oxygen saturation. Often times I would feel absolutely awful and this is one way I could track symptoms. This was before I had been diagnosed with severe obstructive apnea, and was something that could help me tell my doctors my oxygen levels drop when lying down a certain way.
So where to start….I decided to go to Amazon and look to see what they had. If you’ve ever had your oxygen tested in the hospital or at a doctor’s office, there’s a good chance a handheld device was used. These cost about $400-$500 and aren’t something most people buy to use at home. You can get the smaller devices that just clip onto your fingertip for much less. They start around $20 and range up to $200 or more.
I looked around, found one between $20-$30 and saw that it had decent reviews on Amazon. By decent I mean it had a 4 out of 5 stars. Usually this isn’t too bad. I read some of the bad/poor reviews and saw some were pissed off with the device. I’m used to purchasing computer parts and other electronics and you always see these reviews. I didn’t think much of it and purchased the CMS50L Pulse Oximeter. Even though it wasn’t the best thing out there, I thought for $20 I couldn’t go wrong.
The device arrived in the mail and seemed to work great. It takes two AAA batteries, and would be easy to replace. Whenever Liz tried the device out, it showed her at 98 or 99%. When I tried it out I would be anywhere from 90 to 97%. This made complete sense because of how I was doing at the time. I did notice it always started out at 97%, and often eventually got there, but I didn’t think much of it at the time.
Fast forward a month or so and that is when the oximeter fell off my nightstand onto the ground. Shouldn’t be a big deal since there was carpet and the fall was all of 36″, but that’s when the thing started acting weird all the time. It started “freaking out,” not taking readings, would reset randomly, and occasionally gave really odd readings. I often had to hold the device shut on my finger just for it to work. The device always start at 97% and if I wore it long enough, would often get back up to 97%. As time has passed, the pulse oximeter has become more and more sketchy and I figured it was time to get something different. I went back to Amazon and took a closer look at those reviews.
For starters the company who fulfilled my order was Clinical Guard. They had a customer satisfaction rate between 95% which I thought this was pretty good at the time. It’s currently down at 91% which actually isn’t very good at all. This made me start wondering why people aren’t happy with their purchases.
I then looked back at some of the user reviews for the device, especially the bad ones. I started noticing all my complaints were listed in those bad reviews. It seemed as if some of those good reviews were written too soon or maybe the users never compared the readings to a calibrated device with a medical professional. Another common thread was all problems starting about a month after use. Since my oxygen levels have been documented by medical professionals in the 70s, I’d like to have a device that gives me accurate results. Sometimes this is how I determine whether to go to the hospital or stay home.
Apparently the Nonin models are the cadillacs of oximeters. The low end model is around $100 and the mid-range recommended model is about $200. I’d really like to avoid spending $100 right now, so I found another one made by Concord for $40. Even though this is another relatively cheap product, there are some big differences between it and what I currently have. The reviews are almost all positive and it is sold by it’s manufacturer Concord Health Supply. I check their customer satisfaction rating and they’re at 100%. The only negative reviews of the item are by medical professionals saying it’s not as perfect as their high-end, expensive devices at work. I can live with that. So I ordered one last night. I have high hopes it’ll work out better and will let you know how it compares.