Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Use of Pulse Oximeters at High Altitudes

Back in the 1940s, when oximetry was first being used by wartime pilots in the U.S. military, "aviation ear meters" could indicate the blood/oxygen status of pilots flying at high altitudes. This technology was modified and improved during the '50s and later marketed for use in hospitals in the late 1960s. Unfortunately, these new devices were heavy and cumbersome and had bulky, uncomfortable earpieces. They were also very expensive, selling for somewhere around $10,000.

Today's pulse oximeters, by contrast, are small, easy-to-use devices that can be purchased for less than $20, carried in your pocket and simply slipped over your fingertip any time you want to check the oxygen saturation level of your blood. The technology has continued to improve over the past decades. Today, Pulse-Ox units are primarily utilized in home healthcare environments, in emergency response vehicles and in hospitals and clinics. There is, however, an ever-growing market of users who want the benefits oximeters can offer to tourists visiting areas located in higher altitudes, climbers and athletes competing at high elevations.

Lesson #1
What We Learned from Mexico City

Most would agree that the air is "thinner" at higher altitudes and that less oxygen is available for breathing. The fact is, air always consists of the same 20.93% oxygen (O2), regardless of elevation. What does decrease as elevation increases is air pressure. And, as atmospheric pressure lessens so does the amount of oxygen you breathe in with each breath. This, in turn, causes respirations to increase as compensation. There will also be a corresponding drop in the percentage of oxygen saturation in your bloodstream.

Normal blood oxygen readings at sea level are between 95-98%. When you breathe in, the oxygen going into your lungs exerts something called "partial pressure" which corresponds directly to ambient atmospheric pressure. This is important because the partial pressure in your lungs is greater than the pressure in the blood (hemoglobin) surrounding your lungs. At sea level, the partial pressure of O2 is 159mmHg. In Mexico City however, at an altitude of more than 7,200', oxygen's partial pressure is only 125mmHg. It was discovered during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City that higher elevations meant lower blood oxygen saturation, leading to decreased athletic performance. Breathing supplemental oxygen could bring temporary relief from these low oxygen levels and is now commonly used during competitions at high altitude as well as other activities taking place at higher elevations.

Lesson #2
Deadly Airplane Crashes Cause Hypoxia Concerns

In September, 2014, two small airplanes went down and suspicions pointed to pilot unconsciousness due to hypoxia, or inadequate oxygenation of the blood. Symptoms of hypoxia include:

  • Headache, lightheadedness
  • Hot flashes
  • Impaired vision
  • Confusion
  • Sweating, lip tingling
  • Raised heart rate
  • Increased respirations

Although symptoms will vary from one individual to another, you might think that avid, experienced pilots, as these two were, would be aware of the problem and do something to remedy it. If, however, confusion is a factor, thoughts may become illogical.

After these incidents occurred, the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) sent out a message of concern to their members warning of the dangers hypoxia posed to pilots, especially those operating aircraft with non-pressurized cabins. They went on to state that, in their opinion, use of a pulse oximeter "is the best defense against hypoxia," and they recommended the use of these devices to check for blood saturation levels every ten to fifteen minutes while flying.

While FAA regulations require the use of supplemental oxygen for pilots operating at certain altitudes (FAR Part 91, Sec 91.211), none have yet to require use of pulse oximetry for checking blood oxygen levels quickly and dependably.

Lesson #3
Normal Home Altitude Saturation Levels

If you're thinking of going on a northern nomadic expedition or, perhaps, climbing Kilimanjaro, you'd be smart to have a pulse oximeter in your pocket. How you respond to being at significant altitudes will depend partly on the elevation where you normally live. Most people living at sea level will have blood oxygen saturation levels of 95%+, which is normal. If, however, those same people were atop Mt Kilimanjaro, which stands at nearly 20,000', a "normal" saturation level is between 70-75%.

In addition, saturation level and saturation tolerance are two different things, and each person will tolerate a reduced oxygen level differently. Although much will have to do with the elevation level at which you normally live, reactions to high altitude also depend on other factors such as:

  • Age
  • Health status
  • Tobacco smoking history
  • Exercise history, and more

Tourists/vacationers planning to spend time at any high altitudes should definitely take the precaution of having a pulse oximeter in their pockets and ready access to supplemental oxygen. The same goes for climbers, competing athletes and pilots.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Product Spotlight: Nonin GO2 Achieve Fingertip Pulse Oximeter

A lot of things in life, especially when they’re health related, are out of our control. With the Nonin GO2 Achieve Fingertip Pulse Oximeter, control is quite literally in the palm of your hands. An oximeter was created to measure the oxygen saturation in blood and provide a reading that is faster than, but just as accurate as, taking a blood sample. It provides fast, accurate results and is easy to use.

neon green Nonin GO2 Achieve SpO2 Monitor

The Nonin GO2 is designed to be as effective and efficient as possible. From fun colors like blue, green, red, pink, white and orange, with an easy-to-read a screen that faces you, this product was designed with the customer in mind. Many oximeters will have the information facing you upside down. In the case of the GO2 oximeter, the screen faces you to make it easy to read the numbers when they pop up on the large, digital screen. This product, made in the USA, is durable and built to last. Small in size, the portable pulse oximeter can easily fit into a protective case and still not take up too much space.

Accurate Results
Nonin invented the first finger pulse oximeter and has continued to be the most trusted brand because of its accuracy. By giving quick and correct readings, this model reinforces why the brand should be trusted. No matter what environment you are in, you can always expect to get the right reading. Use the oximeter after you exercise, in high altitude or air travel and your results will consistently be reliable. Get hospital level results in the comfort of your own home or wherever life may take you.

Easy To Use
This product makes getting a reading very easy. There are no buttons to press; the process is as easy as slipping it on your finger, pressing a button and waiting for your results to appear. Also, don’t worry about forgetting a charger and having your oximeter dying on you. With this product, you can ditch the wall chargers and keep a single AAA battery on hand for weeks and weeks of power, and there aren’t any cords, wires or device startups to delay the reading.

Overall, the Nonin GO2 is the perfect medical device to have on hand. Avoid making that extra trip to the hospital to get your pulse rate and oxygen saturation readings. Purchase it today to provide yourself with quality health services at the tips of your fingers!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Closer Look at Sleep Apnea

snoring man and tired wife

Sleep apnea often goes unrecognized and untreated, yet it affects as many as 18 million Americans alone. Sleep apnea is a condition that affects your breathing during sleep in one of three of ways:

  1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea – The most common type, obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissue in the back of your throat relaxes and blocks the airway, disrupting breathing and causing snoring.
  2. Central Sleep Apnea – Much less common, central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send signals to the muscles that control breathing, disrupting normal breathing and sometimes causing snoring.
  3. Complex Sleep Apnea – The least common, complex sleep apnea is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.

All forms of sleep apnea disrupt normal sleep cycles as breathing is interrupted throughout the night, typically for 10 to 20 seconds, up to hundreds of times per night. Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to: diabetes, heart disease or heart failure, stroke, weight gain and high blood pressure. While identifying sleep apnea on your own can be difficult – most people don’t remember waking up during the night – there are some signs you can keep an eye out for.

Signs of Sleep Apnea
If your partner frequently complains about loud snoring followed by gasping or choking noises, there’s a good chance you have sleep apnea. If you don’t sleep with a partner, you can record yourself during the night to find out if you are snoring and gasping. Additional signs include: morning headaches, sleepiness throughout the day, learning problems, mood swings or personality changes, or having a dry mouth and sore throat when you wake up.

Sleep Apnea Causes
Sleep apnea is more prevalent in men, smokers, overweight people and those over the age of 65. Additional risk factors include having a deviated septum, a thick neck or enlarged tonsils (a common cause of sleep apnea in children). With treatment however, those who suffer from sleep apnea can control the symptoms and get their sleep and life back on track.

LungBoost Respiratory Trainer box

Sleep Apnea Treatments
There are many at-home remedies you can try, including quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills, and maintaining regular sleep hours. You can also try sleeping on your side, propping up your head and opening your nasal passages with breathing strips or a nasal dilator. Recent studies show regular exercise and respiratory trainers can also help those who suffer from severe sleep apnea.

If you cannot find relief on your own, it’s time to see a doctor. Your doctor can help determine if you have sleep apnea, the cause, and most importantly, the best treatment option for you.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Product Highlight: Deluxe 5 Point Rolling Stand w/ Adjustable pole Height

The Nonin Deluxe 5 Point Rolling Stand, with an adjustable pole height, makes it easy to move with your Nonin pulse oximeter and serve more patients faster and better than ever. Nonin pulse oximeters are suited for both clinical and at-home applications. With an adjustable rolling stand, no matter where you’re at, you can easily turn your tabletop oximeter into a portable pulse oximeter.

Nonin is known for producing high quality, non-invasive monitoring solutions that are used around the world. Their oximeters provide a wide variety of display indicators, so you can do more with less. To best see these indicators, the deluxe rolling stand was designed with an adjustable pole. Whether you’re sitting, standing or on-the-go, this deluxe rolling stand makes using and reading your pulse oximeter a breeze.

Nonin Deluxe 5 Point Rolling Stand Features

hospital rolling stand with basket

When you’re searching for a stand that’s easy to roll in any direction, can reliably hold your oximeter and can store pulse oximeter accessories, look no further than the Deluxe 5 Point Rolling Stand. This adjustable pulse oximeter stand is guaranteed to hold your Oximeter, so you can rest assured it won’t fall off the stand while you’re in the midst of taking a reading. The 5 point rolling system allows for better balance and maneuverability, so you can easily move around a patient’s bed and from room-to-room when necessary.

The deluxe stand also comes complete with a convenient basket that allows you to store and carry oximeter accessories, as well as other items your patients might need. Whether you need to carry wristbands and lanyards or you like to travel with extra cables and batteries, this adjustable pulse oximeter stand has got you covered.

When you need to increase the portability of your pulse oximeter, and when you want to be able to transport extra supplies at the same time, search no further than the Nonin Deluxe 5 Point Rolling Stand w/ Adjustable pole Height from Concord Health Supply. Have a question? We can help! Contact Concord today for fast, friendly and knowledgeable customer service.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Steps to Get CPR Certified

CPR training class

Before the 1960s, any form of cardiac arrest almost assured death. In an attempt to save more lives, surgeon and medical innovator Peter Safar developed a combination of mouth-to-mouth breathing and chest compressions that would open up airways and maintain adequate oxygen levels in non-breathing victims that could resuscitate them. His system for cardiopulmonary resuscitation was adopted by the American Heart Association in the 1970s and has since been standardized as the process for CPR.

Medical emergencies can occur at any time, and often without any warning, so getting CPR certified is a fairly simple and useful process that will equip you with the skills to respond quickly and properly when someone needs assistance.

A CPR certification typically lasts for two years and is easy to obtain by attending a class at a certified training center. If you’re not planning on working as a lifeguard, teacher, babysitter or something in a related field, it is still smart to get certified even if your workplace doesn’t require it. You never know when you could be faced with the opportunity to save a person’s life.

  1. Do some research – The first step in getting your certification is to do some online research about the kind of class you will need to take. CPR classes are typically offered as either healthcare specific or for the general public and are designed to meet different needs based on whether the certification is required by your workplace or if you want to prepare yourself for an emergency situation.

  2. Search for classes – You can call your local gym or municipal swimming pool to see if they offer CPR certification classes, but you can also search online to find other training centers close to you. The Red Cross and the American Heart Association both have a useful search tool that allows you to search by zip code. Some centers will offer both classroom and online class options, but be wary of online classes that don’t require you to come in for a skills evaluation at the end of the course to receive your certification card - this is usually a scam and most workplaces won’t accept a print-out certification card.

  3. Register for classes at your convenience – Classes are usually offered year-round, so you can obtain your CPR certification whenever you have the time to do so. If you are under some time constraints to receive your certification, find out how long it will take to receive your card so you can plan accordingly. Some training centers will present you with it after your final in-person skill evaluation, while others may be mailed to you after completing the course.

  4. Attend classes and get certified – Congratulations! You’ve completed your course work, gotten your CPR certification and are now ready to act accordingly in the event of a medical emergency!

When acting quickly to resuscitate a victim can often mean the difference between life and death, getting CPR certified is a small price to pay when you know that you can save someone’s life. Visit American Heart Association and Red Cross for more information about CPR training and where you can find a training center near you.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Product Spotlight: Soft Fingertip Sensors for WristOx2

WristOx2 soft sensor on fingertip

When you have to check a patient’s SpO2 levels on a consistent basis, a comfortable fit can make all the difference. The Nonin 8000S reusable SpO2 sensors are soft fingertip sensors for the WristOx2 pulse oximeter. Made with a flexible rubber material, the sensor gently covers the entire fingertip, making it an ideal choice for spot-checking and short-term monitoring. However, these PureLight sensors also rise to the challenge when it comes to continuous monitoring. Due to their glove-like structure, they’re extremely comfortable for patients and withstand many behavioral patterns, such as tossing and turning, during sleep studies.

If mere comfort isn’t enough, the level of accuracy and dependability the Nonin 8000S Series provides is impressive on its own. With common red LED sensors, there’s a chance that contamination (the production of a secondary spectrum emission) can occur, which may disturb the oximeter’s calibration curve. This disruption results in imprecise SpO2 readings below 80%. Nonin’s PureLight technology only produces the pure light spectrum and makes it possible for sensors to deliver a steady pulse, dismiss discrepancies in readings from patient to patient and give precise data during motion and low perfusion.

Other great features include:

  • Easy to clean
  • Universal sensor for many settings
  • 12 inch (0.3 meter) cable
  • 8 pin D style connector
  • Increased warranty: Now 2 years
  • Increased EMC compliance: Meets ISO 9919*

Designed for patients of many sizes, the sensor comes in a small, medium and large. See sizing information below:

WristOx2 soft fingertip sensors in small, medium, and large

8000SS-WO2 Small 1m/3m/WristOx2
Digit thickness: 7.5 to 12.5mm (0.3 to 0.5in)
Preferred application: Fingers, toes

8000SM-WO2 Medium 1m/3m/WristOx2
Digit thickness: 10 to 19mm (0.4 to 0.75in)
Preferred application: Fingers, toes

8000SL-WO2 Large 1m/3m/WristOx2
Digit thickness: 12.5 to 25.5mm (0.5 to 1in)
Preferred application: Fingers, toes

For more options and information about our sensors or any of our other pulse oximeter accessories, visit Concord Health Supply today!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

How to Increase Blood Oxygen Levels

Oxygen is crucial in keeping us healthy and plays a huge role in respiration but also in various other metabolic processes in the body as well. When we inhale, the oxygen we breathe is mixed in with the blood, which then carries it to every cell and tissue in the body. Healthy cells are aerobic and when they are deprived of adequate levels of oxygen, the body faces numerous potential health issues, including but not limited to fatigue, depression and hypoxia. These risks can be combatted by ensuring your body is getting the oxygen it needs with healthy daily practices that help raise the blood oxygen level.

Mature woman doing yoga
  1. Exercise regularly
    Aerobic exercises, such as walking, swimming or biking, typically result in a rise of oxygen levels due to a physiological response controlled by the brain. The medulla controls the respiration rate during various activities, and because cells burn oxygen more quickly during exercise than when they are at rest, the body responds to the high levels of carbon dioxide by increasing blood flow to supply the cells with more oxygen. Going for 30-45 minute walks a few times a week or even practicing breathing exercises in the morning will help open up pathways and allow your body to inhale as much oxygen as it needs.

  2. Consume antioxidants and complex carbohydrates
    Increasing the amount of plant based nutrients in your diet and cutting down on acidifying foods, like processed and animal-based products, will help improve your body’s ability to transport oxygen to cells. Complex carbohydrates, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, will result in better circulation of the blood throughout the body, while a diet rich in fat will reduce the blood’s oxygen capacity to carry oxygen. Consuming foods that are high in antioxidants, including blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, plums and blackberries, will also help your body use oxygen more efficiently by releasing it into the bloodstream in proper amounts.

  3. Hydrate
    Water is essential to keep our bodies functioning at the peak of their performance. Without proper hydration, bodily functions like cellular respiration and the removal of toxins and metabolic wastes are inhibited. We lose water on a regular basis through various ways, so drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day will ensure that your body stays hydrated and reaps the full benefits of oxygenation.

  4. Practice good posture
    Breathing adequate amounts of oxygen is the most natural way to improve blood oxygen saturation, and this can be achieved by improving your posture and avoiding things like crouching or rounding your shoulders, as those actions inhibit oxygen intake. It sounds too simple, but it’s true! Simply stand up straight, push your shoulders back as if you are trying to touch them together and keep your chin up in order to ensure your body is taking in the maximum amount of oxygen-rich air.

  5. Just breathe
    Studies have shown that improper, shallow breathing may reduce blood oxygen levels and will also reduce the amount of oxygen that is carried in the bloodstream. People that breathe through their upper chest inhale too much air per inhalation, constricting blood vessels and causing reduced oxygen levels in the cells. Work on performing deep breathing exercises that are slow and come from the diaphragm rather than the chest and out through the nose instead of the mouth. Practicing proper breathing will increase blood oxygen levels, as well as raise energy and cleanse the lungs.

To ensure your body has an adequate saturation of oxygen in your blood, visit Concord Health Supply for a wide selection of oximeters.