What Is A Peak Flow Meter & How To Use It?


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Do you suffer from asthma? Do you often experience a shortness of breath and feel uncomfortable after a walk or run? Have you spoken to your doctor about it and want to monitor the functioning of your lungs? If you can relate to the above situations, maybe you need a peak flow meter. Read on to know all about the use of a peak flow meter and how it can help you.

What Is A Peak Flow Meter?

A peak flow meter is a device used by asthma patients or those with breathing problems to measure how well the air is moving in and out of their lungs. It is an inexpensive and portable device that is also very user-friendly. Measuring the air flow using the peak flow meter can help you manage your asthma symptoms better and avoid the possible onset of an asthma attack.

How Does A Peak Flow Meter Work?

Before you use the peak flow meter, you have to inhale deeply and fill up your lungs with air. A peak flow meter measures the ‘peak expiratory flow’ or the PEF that is the speed at which the air comes out of your lungs when you exhale into it. By monitoring your peak expiratory flow, you can find out if there is any improvement in your lung functioning or not.

[ Read: Breathing Problems In Children ]

Why Should You Use A Peak Flow Meter?

Using a peak flow meter to monitor the functioning of your lungs is a sure-shot way of managing your asthma. If your PEF improves, you will know that the symptoms of your asthma are under control. On the other hand, if your reading deteriorates, you will know when your symptoms are worsening, and you need to schedule a visit to your doctor.

When you have an asthma attack, your airways tighten and narrow making the air flow difficult. If you use the peak flow meter to track your breathing, the readings will alert you if your airways are becoming narrow. It can happen hours or even days before other symptoms of asthma strike. Thus, using the peak flow meter will help to alert you to watch out for a possible asthma attack.

It is always a good idea to use your peak flow meter along with your regular asthma medication. It will help you stay prepared and know exactly when you need to use your inhaler to prevent an asthma attack. It can also alert you to take any precautionary asthma medicine. Using both the medication and the peak flow meter together will help you take preventive action in time and avoid an asthma attack.

Using the peak flow meter can help you in the following ways:

  • It can help you identify all the elements that trigger an asthmatic reaction in you.
  • The peak flow meter can also help you understand if your medications and asthma management plan are working the way they should.
  • By reading the results on the peak flow meter, you will know when it is time for you to change your medication in case they are not as effective as they are supposed to be.
  • The readings from the peak flow meter will also alert you when you should take your preventive medicine.
  • One of the biggest ways in which the peak flow meter can help you is by alerting you to a possible health scare. You will know in advance when your symptoms are indicative of an asthma attack, and you can prevent or handle it better.

[ Read: Respiratory Distress In Children ]

When Should You Use A Peak Flow Meter?

You should use a peak flow meter in the following situations:

  • You and your children can all use the peak flow meter if you have asthma that ranges between moderate and severe.
  • If your child is six years or above and suffers from asthma, he can easily use a peak flow meter to get the appropriate results.
  • If you require asthma medication on a daily basis, you should use the peak flow meter to track your condition and prevent an attack.

[ Read: Breathing Exercises For Kids ]

How To Use The Peak Flow Meter?

Follow the step-by-step guide shared here how to use a peak flow meter for asthma correctly:

  • Stand up or sit down with your back straight.
  • Before using the device, check that the indicator is at zero or the bottom of the peak flow meter.
  • Take a deep breath and fill up your lungs completely.
  • Take the mouthpiece and place it in your mouth. Using your teeth, bite it lightly and close the mouthpiece with your lips. Your tongue should not touch the mouthpiece at all.
  • Exhale as hard and as fast as you can. Make sure you exhale the air in one single blow.
  • Take the meter out of your mouth and record the number you see on the meter. Repeat the steps again to complete a cycle of three repetitions.
  • Check for the highest reading. Note this on a daily basis to maintain your PEF records.

Share the PEF records with your doctor to devise an effective asthma care plan.

Have you used the peak flow meter to manage your asthma? How did it help you? Please share your experience and advice with us here.

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