A Useful Tool for our COVID-19 Toolbox

Oxygen Saturation Measurement from the Samsung Health App.

So far, I still haven’t smoked during the month of April. No doubt, for me, fear of COVID-19 was a contributing motivation to quit. I’m not delusional enough to think that a few weeks of being smoke-free is going to counteract a lifetime of abusing my lungs but hey, quitting can’t hurt & every little helps, right? And if I find myself without income during these turbulent times, it will certainly help if I’m not financing a smoking addiction too. That said, I know I’ll always be a smoker. Long term abstention is the best I can hope for. Even right now, writing about it, I’d kill for a smoke with my cup of coffee! 😁

A COVID-19 article in yesterday’s New York Times (article link) really caught my attention. SpO2? A pulse oximeter? What’s that & who’s got one of them?

I do! Or at least I had … until an update took it away!

I’m a big Samsung phone fan & I also love the Samsung Health app. Doesn’t every obese smoker want to know how screwed up he is!?! Along with monitoring heart rate, steps, & my lack of exercise (😜), my Samsung Note devices have a built-in pulse oximeter. That sensor used to measure my oxygen saturation & that is what the New York Times article is talking about. Unfortunately, some time back, the function vanished. I don’t know why but a new version of the Samsung Health app overwrote the old & the ability to measure oxygen saturation was gone.

Yesterday, after reading that article, I knew I needed it back. And at the risk of giving my phone a dose of a digital virus, I downloaded an older version of the Samsung Health app from a 3rd party website & I’m now measuring my SpO2 levels on my Samsung Note again. Woohoo!

The pic above shows my current O2 level & that number looks pretty good, well into the green zone. After only 3 weeks of not smoking, my heart rate is down & my oxygen saturation is better than my old “normal”. I’m a lifelong data gatherer. I’m not all that scientific with most of it, I just like to know where things are at, typically, & as a baseline. That way I can see when things are running adrift. If Dr. Levitan is right, this simple little tool on my phone might help me to decide when to call that emergency COVID-19 number to schedule a test. I sometimes worry whether I should, or should not, call to see if I need to get tested. Normally, I try to stay away for the doctor’s office & I run the risk of doing that for too long. Now, if my SpO2 numbers go lower than I’ve historically seen them, even when smoking, I think I’ll be motivated to make the call. I will be keeping my eyes open for further insights on what constitutes a low oxygen saturation number with respect to COVID-19.

Of course, this isn’t the only symptom we need to pay attention to. But monitoring oxygen saturation levels might be one more factor behind getting some of those more stubborn individuals in your life to see their doctor in a timely manner. And it might be useful data to share with your physician. It is just one more tool in our COVID-19 Toolbox.

I don’t want anyone to ruin their phone by going back to an old version of the Samsung Health app from a 3rd party website so please be careful & do your research before you decide to take that route. As an alternative, you can also buy the little finger pulse oximeter gadgets online & at your local drugstores & healthcare outlets. They are relatively inexpensive & they may help you establish a baseline for everyone in your household. No sharing outside the home would be recommended, I’m guessing! Should those baseline numbers change, you’ll know you’re doing the right thing when you call the doctor’s office. Or when you make the call on behalf of that stubborn member of your household!

Just to finish off on a dietary note … how’s that whole weight-loss thing going anyway? Especially now that I’m not smoking since the beginning of the month?

In a word … brutal! LOL

Needless to say, not having the opportunity to stuff a cigarette into my face twenty or more times a day, I’m stuffing all sorts of other things into my mouth instead. I’m like an eating machine & the scale is giving out a loud shriek every morning when I crush it! And to make matters worse, I read a few reports on obesity being a big contributing factor to some folk not fending off the bug well.

Oh well, one thing at a time. And we’ll see what the official weight damage is on the first of May!

Stay safe, all!

PS … if any of you learn anything more about the oxygen saturation thing, as it relates to COVID-19, please let me know.

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