New member - question about using peak flow meter

I have a very mild form of asthma, diagnosed winter 2007. The doctor prescribed the classic blue salbutamol reliever, boy what a relief.

I've only needed to use it sporadically. When I get a bit of trouble, it is excaberated hugely by synthetic scents like those found in air freshener or cigarette smoke.

Just been back to the docs for a new inhaler prescrip. She asked if I had a flow meter at home (I don't), and when I looked in to it I found numerous placing saying once-off measurements are meaningless. Each person needs to keep an ongoing list of measurements so that they know what is normal for them (for the record, I managed 463 this time - the charts say that 580 would be normal for my age and height).

Do you think it is worthwhile having a meter and keeping records?

6 Replies

  • Hi Mrcharly,

    I'm no medical expert so all I have to say is my own view. I've been asthmatic since I was 4, now 42!!!!

    I too use Salbutamol if needed and have other inhalers for everyday use. Luckily for me my asthma is well controlled, but the dreaded attack still happens now and again.

    I have a Peak Flow Meter that was given to me on prescription by my Dr. I tend to use it everyday and keep a record. I take 3 readings and then record the highest. Knowing that on a good day I usually get a reading of around 550, I can see when things aren't so good, either because I've had an attack or because something is happening that may cause an attack i.e. viral, pollen etc. I can then take measures to minimise the attack or irritant.

    I seem to recall that you can get a nice little printed asthma diary from Asthma UK which has a chart for plotting peak flow, you may even be able to find one on the internet. Being a bit of a gadget lover, I have an app on my iPhone that lets me do the same thing.

    I find recording my peak flow especially useful when I have to go and see the doc for a medication review or asthma check up. Being able to show them the readings, with any indications of attacks recorded also, gives them a good view of how well my asthma is being controlled.

    Hope this is of some help, good luck with it.

  • Cheers, that confirms what others have said.

    I'll see if the chemist has a peak flow meter.

  • Peak Flow

    I was admitted to hospital early Jan. Had a cold then it went to my chest, so got the usual cough. Have had a cough after each cold all my life, after getting hooping cough as a child.

    I couldn't breath properly so after 3 days was admitted. Along with other treatment, they got me to use a 'flow meter'. Never had a 'chart' with it though. I never managed to get above 190 the doctor kept saying blow harder. Where do you get all this puff from?

    I was told I could keep this flow meter when I came out.Since coming home I blow in it every day, and still can' get above 200. Am I doing it wrong? Is it an age thing I wonder? Or had I got a 'duff' one?

  • Making a guess from your username, you are a lady?

    Women have lower peak flow rates to start with. According to the chart I have here, a woman of the same age as myself would expect a 'normal' peak flow of 440, where as for a man it would be 620.

    The FAQ on this website says if your PF is 80% of 'normal', then you are managing ok. So for me, I should be keeping it above 500. If you are a similar age and size as myself, you would be looking to keep it above 360.

    But then all info I've come across says that 'normal' is very different, person to person. Hence the idea of keeping a chart of peak flow, so that you learn what is 'normal' for yourself.

  • Hi Polly,

    A chart showing normal predicted values can be found in this link:

    A reading of 200 does sound on the low side, however as the others have said what's normal can vary a lot between individuals and you should keep a record of peak flow readings to find your ""best"" value. You'll see on the downloadable pdf chart that for women normal readings can lie up to 85 L/MIN below predicted values. Some people though find that their best readings are very much higher than predicted.

    As for using the peak meter, sit up straight or stand and take a deep breath in, then blow as hard and fast as you can without coughing or spitting into the meter. The reading is usually recorded as the best measurement out of three attempts.

    Hope that helps,


  • Hi there,

    Diagnosed with asthma last year, I didn't have PF meter until someone mentioned one on these pages and I asked my nurse about it. Available on prescription and used every day since.

    Like you, Polly, at the start asthma was variable though never actually got to visit hospital - putting this down to ignorance in knowing what an asthma attack was in the first place plus mine is the cough variant type and the act of coughing opens the lungs,so therefore no wheeze to suggest I was having an attack.

    6 months after first diagnosis, my PFs were well under 300. Pfs are only now, starting to peep over the parapet at 340. I was doing fine till cold weather and find I'm down among the 200s again. I'm 57 and 5 foot 7 in height.

    My asthma nurse tells me my lungs were working at 60% when first diagnosed this time last year following bronchitis and that they're now around the 75% mark on a good day. You could well be the same.

    Best wishes.

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