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- What is Blood oxygen saturation (SpO2), and why does it matter?
- What Fitbit devices offer blood oxygen measurement features?
- Where to get the results on my Fitbit device?
- What can go wrong, and how to fix it?
- To wrap up
Fitbit smartwatches and fitness bands are health powerhouses. Depending on the model, they offer the possibility to track much more than just the daily number of steps! Even though these devices are not FDA-approved medical devices, with them, you can check your overall health with metrics related to heart rate, breathing rate, skin temperature, and even blood oxygen saturation. The vitals checked will, of course, depend on the model.
Blood oxygen saturation is a valuable indicator of the amount of oxygen carried by your blood cells. But considering that you own one of these smart devices, it can be very frustrating not to access the data! So what should you do? Is your Fitbit SpO2 not working? Do you have to contact support and ask for a replacement?
Don’t worry; we will tell you everything about the SpO2 data and how to access them in this article. But, first, let’s define why keeping track of your blood oxygen level is an interesting metric to keep an eye on.
What is Blood oxygen saturation (SpO2), and why does it matter?
SpO2 is a measure of the amount of oxygen in your blood. It can be interesting, especially at night, as a sudden drop in SpO2 may indicate that you experienced a Sleep Apnea Episode, meaning that you temporarily stopped breathing, and as a consequence, provided less oxygen for the blood cells to warry around the body. A typical value will usually range between 95% to 100%.
An oximeter is the typical medical device used by doctors to measure the blood oxygen level. Fitbit devices will act according to the same principles. Infrared light will be emitted by the sensor in contact with the skin, and the amount of reflected light will be measured by the SpO2 sensor to define the blood oxygen level.
The whole process relies on Photoplethysmography (PPG), which can measure vital signs using various light wavelengths. The measurement is usually correct in a 2% range. Each company will make the most of proprietary algorithms to extract the blood oxygen level from the amount of light received by the sensor.
What Fitbit devices offer blood oxygen measurement features?
During the last couple of years, more and more smartwatches and fitness trackers came with such exciting capabilities. Fitbit is no different. Blood oxygen saturation is currently available in the Fitbit Sense, Fitbit Versa 2, Fitbit Versa 3, Fitbit Charge 4, and Fitbit Charge 5.
But having a device compatible does not mean that you will get the results whenever you want. And this is where it becomes frustrating. In the compatible models, Fitbit will not provide any instantaneous value. SpO2 will only be measured at night while you sleep, and the result you will get will be an average.
Fitbit clearly states that the pulse oximeter data they provide are for wellness only and that you should not rely on them for any medical diagnosis. Please keep that in mind! At night, the breathing rate is lower than during the day, so you can expect to get a lower blood oxygen saturation at nighttime compared to daytime.
Where to get the results on my Fitbit device?
Considering that you are the happy owner of one of the SpO2 compatible Fitbit models does not mean that you will get access to the data right away. You may have to install the relevant App. Also, the SpO2 data and relevant apps are only available in some countries. So make sure that this feature is available where you live.
Considering that you are in a country that provides such reading, let’s check how to access the data.
For the Ionic, Sense, and Versa series
- Go into the Fitbit App on your phone. Make sure that your watch or tracker is nearby and is adequately charged.
- On the “Today” screen, tap on “Your account,” select your device, and tap on “Clock Faces.“
- Look for a “SpO2 clock face” and install it.
Always check that your device and App are updated to benefit from the most recent apps and clock faces.
For Sense and Versa 3 only
- Go into the Fitbit App on your phone. Make sure that your watch or tracker is nearby and is charged.
- Tap Apps
- After tapping on the Magnifying Glass icon, search for the “SpO2 Tracker” app and install it.
For Charge 4 and Charge 5
The SpO2 App is already pre-installed, and the results are available either on the watch (you may need to swipe to access the dedicated screen) or in the App (in the Health Metrics summary.)
Keep in mind that after waking up, it may take up to one hour (and in our experience, it can take even longer) to gain access to the SpO2 data of your previous night. So no need to call Fitbit Support right away!
What can go wrong, and how to fix it?
If you still do not see the SpO2 results after installing the proper watch face or App and having slept at least one night wearing your Fitbit watch or fitness tracker, we suggest that you check the following:
- The measurements are only as good as the data collected by the sensor. Ensure that your device is not loose and that the sensor is in proper contact with your skin.
- The SpO2 algorithm requires at least 3 hours of continuous sleep to compute the SpO2 level.
- Synchronize the tracker or watch with the App.
- Tattoos can interfere with the Infrared Sensor readings.
- Make sure that the SpO2 App or clock is turned on.
- Did we tell you that it takes up to one hour to get the results? Be patient.
To wrap up
Fitbit devices are smart and offer the possibility to record Blood Oxygen Saturation levels while sleeping. This metric is exciting to detect potential sleep apnea episodes. Despite Fitbit watches and trackers not being approved medical devices, if you wake up still feeling tired and your SpO2 level shows abnormally low, talk to your doctor.