Last week, after reading a recent piece in the NYT a few of us in my family have ordered or borrowed pulse oximeters (including my brother above, who has since tested positive). It appears that when COVID-19 complications occur, blood oxygen levels often drop to dangerous levels days in advance of any breathing difficulty, and this $50 device can provide you an early warning sign:
There is a way we could identify more patients who have Covid pneumonia sooner and treat them more effectively — and it would not require waiting for a coronavirus test at a hospital or doctor’s office. It requires detecting silent hypoxia early through a common medical device that can be purchased without a prescription at most pharmacies: a pulse oximeter.
Pulse oximeters helped save the lives of two emergency physicians I know, alerting them early on to the need for treatment. When they noticed their oxygen levels declining, both went to the hospital and recovered (though one waited longer and required more treatment). Detection of hypoxia, early treatment and close monitoring apparently also worked for Boris Johnson, the British prime minister.