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The 6 Best Pulse Oximeters of 2021

Final Verdict

If you need a basic pulse oximeter just to spot-check blood oxygen saturation levels for any kind of medical condition, the Contec CMS-50DL (view at Amazon)is the most reliable device with a wallet-friendly price tag that doesn't compromise accuracy. If you're looking for a device to monitor health concerns more than just one-off, it’s worth it to fork up for the Wellue 02Ring (view at Wellue). It’s packed with more advanced technology, accurate sensors, and designed to stay on your finger as you move during sleep.

What to Look for in a Pulse Oximeter

FDA Classification

If you’re relying on a device to help you understand your oxygen saturation, it’s important to be sure that device has been subjected to a high level of regulation and scrutiny for its effectiveness. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains three levels of classifications for medical devices based on the risk to the user and their intended purpose; Class I devices are the simplest, while Class III devices are the most high risk (think pacemakers and cosmetic implants).

Pulse oximeters are Class II medical devices, which puts them at moderate “risk” to the user, though in this case, the risk exists mainly because oximeters are a diagnostic tool. Other Class II medical devices include powered wheelchairs, catheters, pregnancy tests, and contact lenses.

Any pulse oximeter you buy should follow FDA guidelines. Always consult your doctor before using a new medical device.


In order to correctly detect your oxygen saturation, any oximeter you buy should fit securely on your finger, says Sanjeev Jain, MD, PhD, allergist and immunologist practicing at Columbia Allergy.

“Most pulse oximeters on the market are larger in size and meant for use on adult fingers [but] if the pulse oximeter is too loose while placed on a finger, it may be unable to obtain an accurate reading,” he explains. “If you are planning to use a pulse oximeter on a child or a person with frail hands, it would be best to purchase a smaller pediatric device.”

It should be noted that there is a huge variation in the accuracy of commercially available pulse oximeters. A 2018 study in the European Respiratory Journal reports that overall, commercially available pulse oximeters give an accurate reading of oxygen saturation—but how accurate varies among devices.

To find the most accurate at-home pulse oximeters, look for those that are FDA approved, though that doesn’t necessarily guarantee their precision. Dass recommends testing out your personal oximeter at your doctor’s office so you can compare its readings to the ones taken by your doctor’s device.


Continuous Reading Oximeters:

If you’ve ever been hospitalized for respiratory distress (or, in many cases, for anything from birthing a baby to undergoing surgery), you may have been hooked up to a medical-grade oximeter that provided an ongoing picture of your oxygen saturation. 

“Doctors' offices and hospitals use sophisticated devices that provide continuous reading,” says Kunjana Mavunda, MD, a pulmonologist with Kidz Medical Services in Florida. “These devices are the size of a hardcover book and have rechargeable batteries that can last several hours.”

Personal Use Oximeters:

Though some doctors hesitate to recommend that their patients use a personal oximeter, others believe it can be a useful tool as long as their patients know how to use it correctly. Dr. Mavunda says these oximeters are usually small, portable clips that fit on your finger; with most of these coming in under $25, personal use oximeters are affordable, reliable, and readily available for purchase. 

Infant Monitoring Oximeters:

A “smart sock” that fits over an infant’s foot, these oximeters are baby monitoring devices that tell watchful parents exactly how well their baby’s heart and lungs are performing. Typically, these devices are connected to an app on a parent’s smartphone or tablet, which gives them a continuous reading as well as alerts if their baby’s vital signs drop below preset levels. They’re often quite expensive though, Dr. Mavunda notes.


With most respiratory issues, you're going to feel a disruption in your breathing before a pulse oximeter spot check alerts you to any problems, points out Daniel Murphy, MD, assistant professor and medical director of the Section of Internal Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. These devices are most helpful if you have more mild symptoms and then a sudden, significant drop in blood oxygen saturation. But make sure you're paying attention to any warning signs from your body first and foremost, even if your pulse oximeter doesn't set off any alarm bells.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Your pulse plays a starring role in obtaining the oxygenation reading, explains Kunjana Mavunda, MD, a pulmonologist with Kidz Medical Services in Florida. She uses the example of a pulse oximeter attached to your finger to describe the process: “When the heart contracts, blood is pumped out to the finger [and] when the heart is resting, blood travels from the finger to the heart; the difference in this velocity is used to measure the oxygen saturation in the blood.”

  • Before you run out and buy a pulse oximeter, you should consult with your doctor. However, there is a standard range of normal when it comes to saturation readings, your specific range may vary based on your medical condition.

    “A pulse oximeter reading of an oxygen saturation more than 90% is good for most people,” says Dr. Dass. “However, [a 2015] study showed that patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with an oxygen saturation less than 95% have a higher risk of exacerbation [of symptoms].”

    In other words, a pulse oximeter reading isn’t one size fits all: most healthy people hover between 95 and 100%—and most doctors will want to hear from you if your saturation falls below 92%, warns Dr. Dass—but ideally you would use an oximeter at home with oversight from your physician. 

  • The finger you place your pulse oximeter on can affect the quality of your reading.

    “We typically place a pulse oximeter on the right middle finger to get the most accurate information about a patient’s blood oxygen content, tissue perfusion, and heart beat rate,” says Rachel Medbery, MD, thoracic surgeon with Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeons.

    If you can’t use your right middle finger, the next best option is your right thumb, which has also been shown to provide better results than other digits.

  • It depends on what type of oximeter you’re using and what you’re planning to use it for, says Dr. Medbery. 

    “Over-the-counter pulse oximeters either sold online or in pharmacies, without a prescription from your doctor, [are] not FDA reviewed and should not be used for professional medical purposes,” she says, though she adds that they’re safe for basic spot-checks at home. 

    Prescription pulse oximeters go through rigorous testing and review by the FDA; while these are typically used in doctor’s offices, Dr. Medbery says sometimes doctors will prescribe them for at-home use in their patients.

    Either way, though, it’s important to understand the limitations of these devices. Dr. Medbery says movement, temperature, and nail polish can impact the accuracy.

  • According to Dr. Medbery, a normal level of oxygen saturation (SpO2) in your blood is usually 95% or more, though “some people with chronic lung disease or sleep apnea can have normal levels around 90%.”

    Your oximeter should have a clear place where the SpO2 reading is displayed, which will show you the percentage of oxygen in your blood. Unless your provider has told you otherwise, an SpO2 reading of lower than 95% warrants communication with your provider ASAP. 

    Keep in mind that your SpO2 reading is just one measurement of your oxygen saturation, and how you feel (or, more accurately, how easily you can breathe) is important, too. If your oximeter shows a low oxygen saturation, you should contact your provider right away—but OTC or prescription, these devices shouldn’t be used as the only barometer for getting help.

    “If your pulse oximeter...gives a normal reading but you do not feel well, you should seek medical attention,” advises Dr. Medbery.

What the Experts Say

“Most pulse oximeters on the market are larger in size and meant for use on adult fingers [but] if the pulse oximeter is too loose while placed on a finger, it may be unable to obtain an accurate reading. If you are planning to use a pulse oximeter on a child or a person with frail hands, it would be best to purchase a smaller pediatric device.”—Sanjeev Jain, M.D., PhD, allergist and immunologist practicing at Columbia Allergy

Why Trust Verywell Health?

Rachael Schultz is a freelance writer with a focus in health and nutrition. Her articles have appeared on a handful of other Health sites, and she has a degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design. She specializes in breaking down science and medical jargon into digestible information.

Additional reporting to this story by Sarah Bradley

Sarah Bradley has been writing health content since 2017—everything from product roundups and illness FAQs to nutrition explainers and the dish on diet trends. She knows how important it is to receive trustworthy and expert-approved advice about over-the-counter products that manage everyday health conditions, from GI issues and allergies to chronic headaches and joint pain.

Sours: https://www.verywellhealth.com/pulse-oximeters-for-your-asthma-200861

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Pulse oximeters can help monitor those with COVID-19—here’s where to buy one

Pulse oximeters are often used to gauge symptoms of respiratory illnesses.

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.

If you or a family member gets COVID-19, you'll want to have some necessary supplies at home like a thermometer, tissues, and fever reducers. In addition to these items, you also might want to consider getting a pulse oximeter, too.

These medical devices attach to the finger to measure oxygen saturation in the blood. When we covered pulse oximeters in the past, experts told us that oxygen saturation can be a gauge for reduced lung capacity, a common symptom of the coronavirus. 

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can cause lung complications that deplete oxygen levels in the body, as stated by Johns Hopkins Medicine. If an oximeter shows that one's oxygen saturation is low, this could be a sign to take your loved one for medical attention. According to the Mayo Clinic, oxygen saturation below 90 percent is considered hypoxic, meaning there is a lower level of oxygen than is needed in the blood.  

If you're considering getting a pulse oximeter, you can have one shipped directly to your door and most can be purchased with pre-tax money from your FSA or HSA account. While pulse oximeters are relatively easy to find right now, with coronavirus cases rising across the country they may be in short supply soon. 

Below, you'll find highly-rated pulse oximeters based on reviews and from reputable sellers from Amazon, Walmart, the FSA Store, and more. And remember—although it's not entirely necessary for everyone, a pulse oximeter could help give you peace of mind.

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Where to buy oximeters




FSA Store 


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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

Sours: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/reviewedcom/2020/11/24/where-buy-pulse-oximeters-amazon-walmart-cvs-and-more/6413563002/
TOP 3: Best Fingertip Pulse Oximeter 2021 - Oxygen Saturation Monitors For People


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