Are SpO2 Smartwatches A Good Alternative to Pulse Oximeters?

  • 29 months ago
3 minute read.
Are SpO2 Smartwatches A Good Alternative to Pulse Oximeters?

The demand for pulse oximeters that are used to monitor the oxygen levels has raged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts mentioned that it can help to detect the possibility of infection if the reading consistently falls below 92. Earlier this equipment was only used by medical facilities or by those with heart or lung problems and now it has become a necessity for every household.

But people are now looking for other options that fulfill the purpose of tracking oxygen levels. Fitness bands or wearable watches with an inbuilt scanner is one of the alternatives people are switching to, but are these as effective as oximeters?

Shortage of Oximeters

One major reason people are shifting to other devices is the supply of oximeters in the market. Many dealers have reported a shortage in supply of pulse oximeters due to a surge in demand for the vital device because of the panic triggered in people amidst the second wave of coronavirus.

As a result, medical stores are receiving their placed orders later than expected and when it arrives, they get sold out in no time.

If you are having trouble finding a good quality oximeter, buy an OXIMETER online on THE WELLNESS CORNER HEALTH STORE (ORDER MEDICINE section on The Wellness Corner app home screen). Search for a variety of medicines and other health products from trusted pharmacies. Redeem your reward (PEPs) points and utilize them to avail amazing discounts on purchase.

Single-Purpose Oximeter v/s Multipurpose Smartwatch

Another reason is the practical advantage of these fitness trackers - they can be used even after the pandemic. Hopefully, we all believe that this rough time shall pass and oxygen monitoring won’t be required regularly.

These devices can track your calorie intake, the number of steps you take, calories you burn, and your quality of sleep. According to Harvard Medical School “The wearable electronic devices may motivate you to stick to a diet or exercise plan” which of course oximeters won’t do.

You may also like: How to Make Better Use of Your Fitness Tracking Devices?

Price Range is Almost The Same

Oximeters prices have jumped nearly 2.5 times depending on the brand and quality, ranging between ₹1000 - ₹10,000. Some people, especially elderly and those who aren’t tech enthusiasts consider it easy to use because it just has to be clipped on a finger to measure the blood oxygen rate.

On the other hand, youngsters and fitness freaks consider multi-functioning smartwatches as a better option to invest in, considering there is no such difference in the price of both the equipment.

Are Fitness Trackers More Reliable?

Pranav Kaistha, Founder and CEO of Oxygen Times says that smartwatches are for reference use only and may not be as accurate as pulse oximeters since both the tools have major technological differences. Pulse oximeters are specially designed particularly for measuring your oxygen saturation level and justifies the cause.

Oximeter has sensors placed at both the ends of the device. When the finger is placed between the ends of the oximeter, the device emits light which passes (transmits) from finger to the other end (transmittance oximetry). The sensor then uses the wavelength of the light to measure SPO2 levels.

Smart watches are only in contact with the skin at one end, thus the sensors measure SPO2 level based on the light reflection from blood beneath it. The light doesn’t get transmitted in this case, it just gets reflected (Reflectance oximetry).

Infact, big brands like Huawei clearly mention that these are not intended for medical use on their products.

Might Not Be Good for People With Comorbidities

Doctors advise people with comorbidities to stick to oximeters rather than opting for any other device because they might be good enough to detect levels in individuals having a serious health condition.

Bottom Line

Fitness trackers and smartwatches with SpO2 sensors can be used as an alternative but they may not be as accurate as traditional pulse oximeters. They are still a great gadget to alert users with symptoms and can help in tracking mild cases. Additionally they can benefit the user to monitor everyday health and wellness during this pandemic — which is essential for boosting the immune system.
You can connect your fitness wearables with The Wellness Corner app and it will automatically extract relevant data to provide you with wellness insights. Also, make sure your oxygen saturation stays above 92 and if you notice a fall, try some exercises to increase the oxygen levels at home and consult a doctor online to avoid any uncertainties.

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