Flow meters are often used in manufacturing and other industrial facilities, such as water treatment buildings and power plants. They typically help monitor how fast and how much liquid or gas is flowing through a system. The human body is generally a system where liquids and gases flow, and there are many flow meter types that can be used for medical purposes. Such medical devices are often used to measure blood flow, breathing, and how much blood to pump in an artificial heart. They are sometimes portable, so an asthma patient can carry one to monitor breathing capacity, for example.
Portable flow meters are devices that can be carried around. A person typically breathes into a mouthpiece, and he or she reads a scale that shows the force of the air exhaled. The reading can help adjust medications or to determine what kind of allergy triggers the condition. Records can be kept as to what the person’s Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF) is at different times of the day. The readings are often divided into zones, on these flow meter types, that indicate a breathing problem is under control, needs medication, or requires medical attention right away.
Another type of medical flow meter monitors oxygen. It is often part of a respirator system or a portable tank. Integrated with the tubing, mask, and other equipment, this is one of the flow meter types that are portable, and often provides immediate indication if flow has been blocked or the device is not working properly. A flow measuring device can be important for someone who has asthma or other respiratory condition.
Blood flow can also be monitored with a medical flow meter. Pumps that are used for people with heart failure usually require a way to sense the flow of blood so they can respond accordingly. Some flow meter types function by pushing air to the pumps in a device. The airflow, in turn, is often monitored by electronic equipment, which usually adjusts the timing of the pumps. Pressure and temperature sensors may be included in the system as well, and many flow meters measure air in two directions for higher accuracy.
Medical insurance companies sometimes cover different flow meter types, but the guidelines can vary. They are often stringent as to what type of device is necessary. Some flow meters measure one function, but others include features such as computerized control, memory storage, and the ability to monitor multiple lung or other body functions at once.