A peak flow meter is a very inexpensive tool to help a person who suffers from asthma, COPD, or other lung disease(s) to monitor their lung function, specifically peak flows.
It is a simple, plastic gauge that requires the patient to blow into it as forcefully as they can and to record the findings. Patients can do this daily or several times per day to see if the airflow from the lungs is stable or declining. If patients find that their peak flows are reduced, they can contact their health care provider to see if it warrants an increase in oral medications, more breathing treatments, changes in medication, or if the patient may need to be seen for further evaluation.
The main thing with a peak flow meter is that it is a “trending” tool. It allows the patient to monitor their air flows to see if they need any changes in their regime or if they are declining and may need intervention. Monitoring your peak flow may stave off shortness of breath or a hospitalization. It can be used before and after breathing treatments as well to see how well the medication has increased airflows.
Understanding how to use the meter, reproducibility for exhaled breaths, and recording the findings is important so that you get the most benefit from this tool. The meter will come with a guide to show the patient where their flows should be for their size. Peak flow meters come in low flow versions for children and high flow versions for adults.
Consider adding a peak flow meter to your daily routine if you have asthma, emphysema, or another chronic lung disease. It is another tool in your health toolbox to keep you informed on how your lungs are performing and a way to allow you to get medical intervention earlier. It’s simple and inexpensive and should be considered for anyone who uses a nebulizer.
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My name is Laura Castricone and I am a Certified Respiratory Therapist. I have been practicing in the state of Connecticut since 1992. I have worked in several aspects of respiratory care including ...
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