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Your Fitbit may be able to detect a key coronavirus symptom

Your Fitbit could help detect if you have symptoms of the coronavirus.

Earlier this year, Fitbit rolled out blood oxygen monitoring to five of its devices. That feature takes on new significance as the coronavirus spreads, as some COVID-19 patients have extremely low blood-oxygen levels.

Right now, the blood oxygen monitoring is part of Fitbit’s sleep tracking, so it doesn’t seem to take measurements while you’re awake. It is also not giving exact percentages of your blood-oxygen levels. Instead, a graph shows you the points during the night where there are big and small variations in oxygen saturation levels.

While these stats were originally intended to help people track potential issues, like sleep apnea, One Zero points out that if Fitbit makes the readings available during the day, it could alert those with COVID-19 to changes in oxygen levels, which they might not otherwise notice.

Pulse oximeters are medical devices that measure the amount of oxygenated blood in your body. Doctors become concerned if the level drops below 93%, according to Science Magazine.

Hypoxia — or low blood-oxygen levels — can rapidly lead to pneumonia in some patients, one doctor wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times.

The Fitbit’s monitor doesn’t yet have approval from the Food and Drug Administration as a medical device. The company notes the devices are “not intended for medical purposes.”

Apple may also be planning to include a blood-oxygen level monitoring feature in its upcoming watch, expected to be called Apple Watch 6, according to 9to5Mac. It will likely be similar to the way the heart monitoring alert works. If the watch detects serious changes, it would urge the wearer to consult a doctor.

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