A peak flow meter is a tool used by physicians to assess and monitor lung function. The portable device consists of a plastic tube that features numerical and sometimes color-coded readings. One end of the tube has an open area that serves as a mouthpiece. Within the tube lies a lever or ball mechanism that moves along the readings when users blow into the meter. By looking at the readings on the device after a patient breathes into the metered tube, healthcare providers and patients get an idea of how well the lungs are functioning at that moment.
The physicians at Allergy & Asthma Associates often use a peak flow meter when testing for asthma. The device measures peak expiratory flow rate, which represents the amount of air that the lungs expel during exhalation. When people develop asthma, lung airways becomes inflamed, swollen and filled with mucus. Under these conditions, the lungs weaken and take in less air. The peak flow device serves multiple purposes. The meter can:
- Establish baseline lung function
- Check lung condition throughout the day
- Gauge the effectiveness of treatment
- Warn the patient of an impending asthma flare-up
Using the Peak Flow Meter for Asthma
With the meter registering zero, the patient takes a deep breath and exhales forcefully through the mouth and into the device. The process is repeated two more times, and the results are recorded. When readings fall 15 percent or more below the best readings for that person, the results indicate the beginning of an asthma attack. Readings are often lower at night, as the condition often exacerbates at this time.
When using the peak flow meter for asthma, divide the gauge into three distinct regions based on the best readings obtained by the patient. The uppermost level indicates that the lungs are functioning at an optimum level and no treatment is required. When readings drop to the middle level, treatment is needed or current therapy is ineffective, and patients should consult with a physician. If readings lie on the lower level, the patient is in danger. They need to use a rescue inhaler and may need to seek medical treatment.
As asthma may create a life-threatening condition, proper treatment and preventative measures are essential. Using a peak flow meter in attempts at testing for asthma, following physicians’ instructions and taking medications as directed improves the quality of life for patients diagnosed with the condition.
If you or your child has not been tested for asthma, please give our friendly Colorado Springs asthma doctors and medical staff a call at any of our 4 Colorado asthma clinic locations. Asthma & Allergy Associates can test your asthma symptoms and get you or your child on the right treatment plan today!