What is an Asthma Peak Flow Meter?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
An illustration of the pathology of asthma.
An illustration of the pathology of asthma.

An asthma peak flow meter is an instrument an asthma patient uses to evaluate the efficiency of his lungs. A doctor may recommend this tool as part of an asthma treatment plan, making it easy for the patient to figure out whether he’s getting enough air. The readings from an asthma peak flow meter help the patient monitor his asthma and determine whether an attack is likely. Combined with the monitoring of symptoms, this tool can be a valuable part of an asthma patient’s treatment plan.

For those with asthma, it can be very helpful to keep a journal detailing the factors surrounding their asthma attacks.
For those with asthma, it can be very helpful to keep a journal detailing the factors surrounding their asthma attacks.

An asthma patient can purchase a peak flow meter over the counter at most drug stores. To use it, the patient makes sure the device is set to the lowest number on its scale and has its mouthpiece connected. While standing, the patient then takes a deep breath and wraps his lips around the tool’s mouthpiece. After blowing forcefully and quickly into the asthma peak flow meter, he checks to see where the marker has moved on the numbered scale.

Peak flow meters are considered accurate tools for measuring lung efficiency at home. When a person has asthma symptoms, his airways become tightened and inflamed, and he cannot get enough air. Peak flow meters note changes in lung efficiency before the person is having an attack by evaluating how hard the person can blow into the meter. If the patient cannot blow as forcefully as expected, this may be an indication that an asthma attack is likely or that the patient should adjust his medication to prevent an attack.

Depending on the severity of a patient’s asthma, he may use an asthma peak flow meter on a daily basis or every few days. By recording his readings and sharing them with his doctor, he can gain important insight into the severity of his condition. With his doctor’s help, he can determine whether or not his treatment plan is working as well as it should and adjust his medication accordingly. In some cases, peak flow meters help asthma patients know when asthma attacks are impending, even before the typical symptoms begin. An asthma peak flow meter can even help a patient determine whether emergency medical help is needed.

When a patient begins using a peak flow meter, his doctor will typically decide how often he should use it. He may also help him figure out what readings he should expect, what would be normal for him, and when he’ll need to take steps to prevent an asthma attack. He may also ask the patient to record his readings in a journal, on paper, or via computer for a period of time. These numbers can be important in evaluating and adjusting a patient’s asthma treatment plan.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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    • An illustration of the pathology of asthma.
      An illustration of the pathology of asthma.
    • For those with asthma, it can be very helpful to keep a journal detailing the factors surrounding their asthma attacks.
      For those with asthma, it can be very helpful to keep a journal detailing the factors surrounding their asthma attacks.