Peak Flow Meters Charts and Their Importance

Peak Flow Meters – Overview

A Peak Flow Meter is a measurement device used by asthmatics to get accurate and fast readings regarding the effectiveness of breathing.

These symptoms of asthma result from one or more of the following: extra mucous in the patient’s airway, swelling in the tissue of the airways as a result of introduced irritants and muscle spasms in the air passages as a result or one or both of the first causes listed.

In order to properly treat asthma, a patient may be requested to use a peak flow meter at home for at least some determined period of time.

The purpose of a peak flow meter is to measure lung function. Using this device is simple; the patient inhales deeply and exhales hard into a plastic tube in order to get a reading for how fast the patient is able to exhale successfully.  The result of this test is a peak flow number.

In order to determine progress, a "personal best" peak flow number for the patients needs to be obtained by recording the peak flow number daily, This should only need to happen for a few weeks, until medication has taken effect and the patients asthma is under control.  The highest number achieved during the week or so of testing is the patient’s personal best peak flow.  Future peak flow measurements can then be compared with a patient’s personal best peak flow, and that will show if their asthma is controlled effectively.

When explaining the process of using a peak flow meter, the physician will explain the purpose and reason of the device – and then the physician will give instructions as to the timing of testing and how to take necessary medications as a result of the tests. Often times, if a bad score occurs, a patient will need to adjust their medication. Physicians whose patients are using peak flow meters will often give the patient a chart detailing how to change dosages, etc should that become necessary.

Regular testing with a peak flow meter may enable the asthmatic to prepare for an on-coming attack.  Comparing readings daily or more often will enable the patient to see obvious fluctuations, and will also enable the ability of the asthmatic to predict trends and consider possible triggers that have decreased the peak flow rates.

To get a rough indication of what your peak flow should be, various charts are available, such as this Peak Flow chart :

To find your peak flow, move right along the bottom axis until you get to the point corresponding to your age, and then vertically up until you hit the red curve that corresponds to your height, and then where these intersect, go horizontally left and read the peak flow value of the vertical axis.

As an example (above), if you are a woman aged 58, who has a height of 61 inches (5 foot, 1 inch, or 154 cm (1.54 m), then your predicted Peak Flow is roughly 430 litres per minute.

Asthma Guide


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