Peak Flow Meter

1 What is a Peak Flow Meter?

Peak flow meter is an easy and portable device which is used to assess the functioning of the lungs. With the help of this device, one can measure the ability of the lungs to expel air.

The device can measure the force of air in liter per minutes. The patient has to just blow harder through a mouthpiece on one end of the device. The reading will be represented on a built-in numbered scale. The patient suffering with asthma is generally advised to use the device in order to monitor the state of the disease.

The advantage of using the peak flow meter is that its regular use will help a patient to keep a check on the flow of the air and will also help in diagnosing narrowing of the airways before a person actually feels the symptoms of asthma. This device can be used for both the adults and the children.

2 Reasons for Procedure

The main reason to use peak flow meter is to help the person to monitor changes in the breathing, regularly.

The advantages of using the peak flow meter are:

  • Helps in checking and controlling asthma
  • Helps to monitor if the treatment was given is working properly or not.
  • Helps in recognizing the signs of breathing problems like asthma before the symptoms actually appear.

3 Preparing for your Procedure

In preparing for your peak flow meter, you must follow your doctor’s orders. A person should consult a doctor before buying the device so that the doctor would suggest you to buy a right one.

The doctor will advise the patient to use peak flow meter if:

  • A patient is having symptoms of asthma that makes one wake up at night.
  • Increased asthma symptoms during the day.
  • In the case of cold, flu or other illness that affects breathing.

The peak flow meter can be purchased from a pharmacy store. There are many types of peak flow meters available in the market but all of them works in a similar manner.

The basic principle behind its working is that the patient has to blow harder on one side of the device to record the breath. In order to obtain accurate results one should keep the device clean and fully charged.

4 What to Expect

Read on to learn more about what to expect before, during, and after your peak flow meter.

One can follow the below-given steps for using the peak flow meter:

  • Move the marker to the bottom of the scale
  • Stand still and keep your lips around the mouthpiece of the device, tightly.
  • Take a deep breath to fill your lungs with air completely.
  • Exhale the air in one blow through the mouthpiece of the peak flow meter.
  • Check the final reading.

The procedure should be followed thrice and the highest reading should be recorded among the three.

One should have prior knowledge of how to use the device properly. For doing so, one can consult a doctor or any other healthcare provider who can help to use the device, properly.

The instructions given by the manufacturer should be followed. The patient should record the values twice or thrice a week and the highest value is considered as the personal best.

5 Procedure Results

The results of a peak flow meter will be given by your doctor. Once the value is recorded, the person or the doctor use the color coding system, that is dependent on the person’s symptoms and the peak flow value, to decide the health status of the patient.

Color coding is usually of three color green, yellow, and red. The color code for each zone reflects progressively more severe symptoms:

Green zone: If the peak flow value is between 80 to 100 percent, the patient is considered to be in the green zone. It is an indication that the asthma is under control. The doctor, in this case, will advise the patient to continue the regular medications. If the patient is consistently in the green zone, the doctor may even ask the patient to reduce using medicines.

Yellow zone: When the peak flow range is between 50 to 80 percent, the patient is considered to be in the yellow zone. It is an indication that the asthma is getting worse. These patients may experience symptoms like coughing, wheezing, or tightness in the chest. The doctor may change the medications for improving the symptoms.

Red zone: In this zone, the peak flow measurement is less than 50 which indicates that an immediate medical attention is required. The patient experiences severe coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.