Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The Conversation logo

Do you own an oximeter? If so, do you know how and when to use it? It could save your life.

COVID-19 has killed at least 60,000 people in the UK. Many who die have a sudden drop in their blood oxygen levels a day or two before their lungs fail. Unlike in many other chest diseases (asthma, for example), COVID-19 can cause a severe drop in blood oxygen level without any associated breathlessness.

Because of this, people with this “silent hypoxia” are unlikely to seek the urgent help they need, unless they regularly measure their blood oxygen level or their condition deteriorates. If they realise something is wrong, they may reach hospital just in time to receive oxygen therapy (and, if necessary, ventilation). Others are admitted too late to save – or die at home.

The blood oxygen level is one of the strongest predictors of death in COVID-19, and early oxygen improves survival. So it’s time to learn to measure yours and to know what to do if it’s low.

Read the full article on The Conversation website, co-written by Professor Trish Greenhalgh (Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences)

Oxford is a subscribing member of The ConversationFind out how you can write for The Conversation.

Similar stories

New research reveals relationship between particular brain circuits and different aspects of mental wellbeing

Researchers at the University of Oxford have uncovered previously unknown details about how changes in the brain contribute to changes in wellbeing.

Night-time blood pressure assessment is found to be important in diagnosing hypertension

Around 15% of people aged 40-75 may have a form of undiagnosed high blood pressure (hypertension) that occurs only at night-time. Because they do not know about this, and therefore are not being treated for it, they are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease such as stroke, heart failure, and even death, suggests new research from the University of Oxford published in the British Journal of General Practice.

Major new NIHR Global Health Research Unit to focus on data science and genomic surveillance of antimicrobial resistance

The Centre for Genomic Pathogen Surveillance, part of the Big Data Institute at the University of Oxford, has been awarded funding worth £7m for their work as an NIHR Global Health Research Unit (GHRU) for the next five years. The Centre’s research and capacity building work focuses on delivering genomics and enabling data for the surveillance of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

How artificial intelligence is shaping medical imaging

Dr Qiang Zhang of the Radcliffe Department of Medicine explains how artificial intelligence is being used to help researchers and physicians interpret medical imaging.

Researchers describe how cancer cells can defend themselves from the consequences of certain genetic defects

Researchers in Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics have identified a rescue mechanism that allows cancers to overcome the consequences of inactivating mutations in critically important genes.