Why Oximeters Are More Useful For Covid-19 Screening Than Thermometers In Older People

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With the pandemic, we have become accustomed to having our temperature taken with a infrared thermometer before accessing certain places. This gesture is intended to detect possible infected, since fever is one of the main symptoms of Covid-19.

However, Catherine Van Son, Associate Professor of the Washington State University College of Nursing, and Professor of Clinical Care Deborah Eti, propose, in an article published in the journal “Frontiers in Medicine”, to use the pulse oximeter (device which measures the percentage of oxygen saturation in the blood and the pulse through the finger) in older adults as a more useful form of screening than taking a temperature.

The reason given by these two professionals is that in older ones, the initial temperatures are lower, which means that fever can be ignored using the CDC standard definition of 38 ° C or higher.

“In fact, more than 30% of older adults with serious infections have mild or no fever,” they point out in the document. And other common signs of Covid, such as fatigue, body aches, and loss of taste or smell, can also be ruled out and attributed to aging.

Added to this is that some Covid-19 patients do not have visible symptoms of low oxygen levels, such as shortness of breath, but have an oxygen saturation below 90%. And this asymptomatic hypoxia it can be associated with extremely poor results.

Van Son and Eti say portable pulse oximeters are inexpensive and should be considered for wide use in testing for Covid-19 of older adults because these devices can detect changes in oxygen saturation even when there are no other indications of infection.

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“Detecting asymptomatic hypoxia is essential for the prevention of infection progression and the initiation of treatment,” the two professionals point out in their article, who concluded: “Early interventions could help patients avoid highly invasive procedures (that is, , intubation) and improve the allocation of scarce healthcare resources ”.

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