peak flow readings

Hi. I am having asthma symptoms - tight chestedness even when my peak flow readings are normal (400+). My GP and specialist both seem to think it is asthma, but I don't understand how my peak flow can be normal and I get such a tight chest, which affects my ability to do normal activities.

Please does anyone know how this can be?



8 Replies

  • Hi Jill,

    Don't think you'll ever get an answer to that one, not even the medical profession can give a sensible explanation. Asthma is such a variable condition, that were all different. As you peak flows are fine, don't rely on those, but go by symptoms. If you are struggling at any point then seek medical help, using your reliever as and when, and sure you've seen it on here about using a spacer with upto 10 puffs in that as an emergency aid, are all worth knowing.

    You're recently diagnosed and new to using seretide, so the effects take a few days to start to fully kick in, only concern is you were given this without going through the steroid first to get the correct dose, but many seem to do that now. Did you do some form of reversable airway test at the GP's, recording two sets of peak flows one after using your reliever, that's the best way to confirm asthma.

    Being new to asthma, it takes a while to find the correct medication and dose to help you, so you may need something different, or give your current one a little longer to work, but the cold weather isn't helping at the moment,, Oh and stress of Christmas.

    Take care, and Happy New Year.


  • Thanks. I'm not even sure if my peak flows are increasing much after using an inhaler or having a nebuliser, although the tightness improves. It does seem to be quite complicated. I am on Symbicort now which seems to be a bit better even though it does the same thing. The consultant is putting me back on steroids for two weeks as a trial. It is a mystery to me. The cold weather is definitely a problem.



  • Peak Flow Readings

    Hi JillG

    I am exactly the same as you. I cough, I have a tight chest and out of breath regularly yet my peak flows rarely change - always 400+ like you. I am currently on the dreaded Pred which is making me able to breath deeply, reducing the coughing and tight chest. Yet my peak flow is still the same! How frustrating. I was just wondering if you have any more answers from your GP as mine is saying the same is you. Believe me I feel your frustration! Hope you are doing better.

  • Hi my peak flow fine too but doc says chest is really tight and feels it. I feel in a lot of pain, pred taking it's sweet time and making me super grumpy, winding up kids already and not like me at all. Still got 5 days to go if I'm lucky, also preventer has been trebled too.Soz I've got no answers but you are not alone. I'll be looking to see what others say. My sats were fab too, my Son is the same when he is seriously ill and uses stomach muscles to breath with. We do not wheeze which really does not help.


  • It seems to be a common problem for us all. I have had spirometry which says I don't have asthma, but I feel better when I am on Symbicort compared to off it. The GP wants to see me again as he isn't happy I still have symptoms. It is a mystery.

  • My impression is that technique has a lot to do with peak flow readings. My teenage son has asthma since 18month old. His readings taken off a peak flow meter are always low for his height and weight. Readings done by spirometry are always higher. Even though he was acutely ill for about 2 years and in hospital much of every winter, he never wheezed. Now that he is old enough to describe what his asthma feels like it's basically a sensation of too much mucous in his throat and upper airways - no sensation of tight chest. We did find that he had a problem with Ventolin after treating him with it in large doses for a number of years! Seems it was tightening not relaxing his airways. Atrovent works instead.

    I had asthma as a child, though not treated as such as it was 40-45 years ago! Now the symptoms have come back and I am the same as my son, mucous in the throat meaning I'm constantly clearing it to the annoyance of others. Peak Flow readings on my old style meter vary from 350-480, but on the new style 'European' Peak Flow meter at the asthma clinic my readings stay stubbornly around 350.

  • Hi, i also have a good peak flow reading, in the a.m. it is ~ 400 l/min and in the pm ~490 l/min, which for a 36 yr old at 5'5"" i hear is pretty good. I was diagnosed last year just before a field trip with uni, as i went up to the docs thinking i had another one of those mad chest infections i had been getting every 4-6 weeks where i coughed uncontrollably. I got in to the docs feeling breathless and then started braying like a donkey and i couldn't stop it, doc said my chest was really tight and then next thing i know i am in hospital and the doc is saying he doesn't know whether it was copd or asthma. They finally decided it was asthma and although i rarely wheeze i cough (does this mean i have cough-variant asthma?) also that my triggers were viral infections and excercise although when it was really unstable even laughing caused an attack (lol my daughter even got kicked out of the ward for making me laugh).

    So now i take symbicort turbohaler two puffs twice a day had no really symptoms apart from occasional cough during the night and some breathlessness after climbing stairs or running. For me the worry is work, in June once i graduate, i have to take a medical to start work as a mud logging geologist on oil rigs and i am really worried that i will fail it and really not sure what to do, is a medical lung capacity test basically a peak flow test?

  • My asthma nurse tells me that the Peak Flow Meter only records a single second of your outbreath, any breathing after that won't change the reading. I guess Spirometry and oxygen sats tests take readings over a longer period, hence the difference.

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