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||What steps should I take while checking my blood pressure at home?
Before taking your blood pressure
Find a quiet place.
Check to be sure you have the correct size cuff. If you are not sure, or if you have questions, talk to your healthcare provider. (Avoid wrist and finger monitors to ensure an accurate blood pressure reading.)
Roll up the sleeve on your left arm or remove any tight-sleeved clothing, if needed. (It's best to take your blood pressure from your left arm if you are right-handed. However, you can use the other arm if you have been told to do so by your healthcare provider.)
Rest in a chair next to a table for 5 to 10 minutes. (Your left arm should rest comfortably at heart level.)
Sit up straight with your back against the chair, legs uncrossed and on the ground.
Rest your forearm on the table with the palm of your hand facing up.
You should not talk, read the newspaper, or watch television during this process.
Taking your blood pressure
If you buy a manual or digital blood pressure monitor (sphygmomanometer), follow the instruction booklet carefully.
Record your blood pressure
If you have been asked to record your blood pressure and bring your readings to the office, please write down the date, time of day, systolic and diastolic numbers, heart rate, and which arm you took the reading on. If you are taking part in a program that has remote monitoring, your blood pressure readings are automatically shared with your medical provider. If you are unsure, please ask your provider.
Pulse Oximeter Accuracy
The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused an increase in the use of pulse oximeters, and a recent report (Sjoding et al.External Link Disclaimer) suggests that the devices may be less accurate in people with dark skin pigmentation. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is informing patients and health care providers that although pulse oximetry is useful for estimating blood oxygen levels, pulse oximeters have limitations and a risk of inaccuracy under certain circumstances that should be considered. Patients with conditions such as COVID-19 who monitor their condition at home should pay attention to all signs and symptoms of their condition and communicate any concerns to their health care provider.
How to take a reading:
Follow your health care provider’s recommendations about when and how often to check your oxygen levels.
Be aware that multiple factors can affect the accuracy of a pulse oximeter reading, such as poor circulation, skin pigmentation, skin thickness, skin temperature, current tobacco use, and use of fingernail polish. To get the best reading from a pulse oximeter:
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.
When placing the oximeter on your finger, make sure your hand is warm, relaxed, and held below the level of the heart. Remove any fingernail polish on that finger.
Sit still and do not move the part of your body where the pulse oximeter is located.
Wait a few seconds until the reading stops changing and displays one steady number.
Write down your oxygen levels with the date and time of the reading so you can easily track changes and report these to your health care provider.
How to interpret a reading:
When taking pulse oximeter measurements, pay attention to whether the oxygen level is lower than earlier measurements, or is decreasing over time. Changes or trends in measurements may be more meaningful than one single measurement. Over the counter products that you can buy at the store or online are not intended for medical purposes.
Do not rely only on a pulse oximeter to assess your health condition or oxygen level.
If monitoring oxygen levels at home, pay attention to other signs or symptoms of low oxygen levels, such as:
Bluish coloring in the face, lips, or nails;
Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or a cough that gets worse;
Restlessness and discomfort;
Chest pain or tightness; and
Fast or racing pulse rate.
Be aware that some patients with low oxygen levels may not show any or all of these symptoms. Only a health care provider can diagnose a medical condition such as hypoxia (low oxygen levels).
When to contact your health care provider:
If you are concerned about the pulse oximeter reading, or if your symptoms are serious or getting worse, contact a health care provider.
If you think you may have COVID-19, contact your health care provider or local health department about getting a diagnostic test for COVID-19. Pulse oximeters cannot be used to diagnose or rule out COVID-19.
What You Need to Know About Using a Fetal Doppler at Home
You’re pregnant and you know it can be an exciting, beautiful experience. But you’re also a little nervous. You want some reassurance that everything is A-OK. Wouldn’t it be great if I could check on my little one right now? you find yourself thinking.
Or maybe you’re not so nervous as you are wanting to bond with your baby a little more — looking for a way to connect.
First, rest assured that you’re not alone in your concerns. Many people are anxious for peace of mind or eager to bond with baby — which is why at-home fetal dopplers are so popular.
A fetal doppler — whether at the doctor’s office or purchased for home use — is a hand-held ultrasound device that uses soundwaves to listen to a fetal heartbeat. When you go to your doctor for a check-up, they’ll use one of these devices — hopefully, not without warming the ultrasound gel first! — to detect your baby’s heartbeat from around 8 to 10 weeks.
If your doctor can’t hear a heartbeat in the first trimester, it’s not necessarily a cause for concern. Some dopplers (yes, even those you encounter at your OB’s office!) only detect it after about 12 weeks.
For many, hearing the heartbeat at the doctor’s office is a magical, joyful, and reassuring experience — and the time between appointments is just so darn long to wait to hear that sweet sound again! The idea of listening to the heartbeat in between doctor’s appointments is appealing. It may also ease anxiety and help you feel more connected to your baby.
So what’s the harm? Well, possibly very little.
But not so fast. It’s important to know about the safety hazards of at-home fetal dopplers before you use one.
What is a nebulizer?
A nebulizer is a small machine that creates a mist out of liquid medication, allowing for quicker and easier absorption of medication into the lungs.
Typically, nebulizers come in both electric or battery-run versions, and are either portable (so you can carry with you) or meant to sit on a table and plug into a wall.
Both versions of nebulizers are made up of:
a base that holds an air compressor
a small container for liquid medication
a tube that connects the air compressor to the medication container
Above the medication container is a mouthpiece or mask you use to inhale the mist.
A nebulizer is helpful for a variety of conditions, including:
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Nebulizers are also a helpful way to deliver medication during palliative care and to very young children.
Blood glucose meter: How to choose
If you have diabetes, you'll likely need a blood glucose meter to measure and display the amount of sugar (glucose) in your blood. Exercise, food, medications, stress and other factors affect your blood glucose level. Using a blood glucose meter can help you better manage your diabetes by tracking any fluctuations in your blood glucose level.
Many types of blood glucose meters are available, from basic models to more-advanced meters with multiple features and options. The cost of blood glucose meters and test strips varies, as does insurance coverage. Study your options before deciding which model to buy.
Choosing the right meter
When selecting a blood glucose meter, it can help to know the basics of how they work. To use most blood glucose meters, you first insert a test strip into the device. Then with a special needle, you poke a clean fingertip to get a drop of blood. You carefully touch the test strip to the blood and wait for a blood glucose reading to appear on the screen.
When used and stored properly, blood glucose meters are generally accurate in how they measure glucose. They differ in the type and number of features they offer. Here are several factors to consider when choosing a blood glucose meter:
Insurance coverage. Check with your insurance provider for coverage details. Some insurance providers limit coverage to specific models or limit the total number of test strips allowed.
Cost. Meters vary in price. Be sure to factor in the cost of the test strips, as these will represent the majority of the cost in the long term.
Ease of use. Some meters are easier to use than others. Are both the meter and test strips comfortable and easy to hold? Can you easily see the numbers on the screen? How easy is it to get blood onto the strips? How much blood is required?
Special features. Ask about the features to see what meets your specific needs. Special features may include large, easy-to-handle buttons and test strips, illuminated screens, and audio, which may be useful for people with impaired vision.
Information storage and retrieval. Consider how the meter stores and retrieves information. Some can track time and date of a test, the result, and trends over time. Some meters offer the ability to share your readings in real time with your healthcare provider with a smartphone app. Or some may offer the option to download your blood glucose readings to a computer, then email the test results to your doctor.
Support. Most meter manufacturers include a toll-free number that you can call for help. Look for a meter that includes clear instructions that demonstrate the correct way to use the meter. Some manufacturers offer users manuals on their websites.
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