We provide pulse oximeters or PulseOx to our guides.
What is a pulse oximeter?
A pulse oximeter is a noninvasive method for monitoring a person’s oxygen saturation (SO2) by using beams of light that shine into small blood vessels and capillaries in your finger. The sensor reflects the amount of oxygen in the blood.
This is very important when ascending to high altitudes. It helps our guides have a baseline to work from to make sure our clients are safe on the mountain. We monitor your pulse and blood oxygen levels every morning and evening while on the mountain.
How does a Pulse Oximeter work?
The device is placed on a fingertip. The device passes two wavelengths of light through the body part to a photodetector. It measures the changing absorbance at each of the wavelengths, allowing it to determine the absorbances due to the pulsing arterial blood alone. This excludes venous blood, skin, bone, muscle, fat, and (in most cases) nail polish.
Oxygen saturation is a measurement of how much oxygen your blood is carrying as a percentage of the maximum it could carry. Normal blood oxygen levels at sea level are 95-100%.
Why is a Pulse Oximeter Important?
The body deals with this decrease in available oxygen by breathing faster and deeper (even at rest) to increase the oxygen content in the blood (i.e. blood oxygen saturation or SO2).
The optimal oxygen saturation of the blood lies between 95 and 98 percent. This value corresponds to the percentage of haemoglobin molecules which transport oxygen in proportion to the total number of haemoglobin molecules.
A high reading of SpO2 could indicate very good acclimatization, or that the person is hyperventilating from anxiety, or even that he has carbon monoxide poisoning! A lower reading could demonstrate anoxia, oxygen starvation, or it could show that a person is coping very well with altitude. A trained athlete with 65% oxygen saturation may be perfectly safe, whilst a less fit trekker could still be at risk for hypoxemia at 75%. The real purpose of a pulse oximeter is to correlate heartbeat and oxygen saturation in a clinical environment for someone suffering from sleep apnea, heart attack or failure, pneumonia, anaemia and asthma.
In conclusion, we use the pulse oximeters to recognize early signs of impending altitude sickness. We are one of the few companies that use the pulse oximeter. We want you to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro as safely as possible.