Asthma 101: The Peak Flow Meter

As asthma is a chronic condition, it is important for sufferers’ to continually monitor the severity of their condition. As people age, their needs in terms of the medication they require to control their asthma may change – so continual monitoring is essential. It is also important for users to understand what makes their conditions worse, when it peaks and when it needs specific attention.

Thankfully, such monitoring can be done at home, using an item of equipment called a Peak Flow Meter. Essentially, a Peak Flow Meter monitors the effectiveness of a person’s lungs. This is done by measuring their expiration rate, known as their Peak Expiratory Flow Rate. When someone is suffering with asthma, their Peak Expiratory Flow Rate will be lower than one would usually expect.

The measurement is taken using a Peak Flow Meter, as mentioned. This is effectively a circular tube of plastic with a mouthpiece on one end; the user then blows, as hard as they can in a sudden burst of breath, in to the tube. A slide on the top of the tube will then move along a numbered chart, giving a Peak Flow reading.

The resulting reading will fit in to one of three categories:

Green: A normal Peak Flow Expiratory Rate has been detected. Medication is effective.

Yellow: Indicates a narrowing of the airways. If someone with asthma has taken their inhalers and still only achieves a yellow reading, they may require a stronger dosage.

Red: A medical emergency, seek immediate help.

A Peak Flow Meter will be provided to anyone diagnosed with asthma and should be used regularly to monitor the condition.

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