Peak Flow Levels

What does everyone here class as a good peak flow reading, and what is a poor reading?

I usually only have mild asthma, and my peak flow remains stable... This past week or so Iv noticed it has dropped... Iv had a cold, really bad cough and been really wheezy and crackly. I have been taking my inhaler (reliever only as I don't have preventer) but it's not making much difference to the peak flow levels. I am wondering whether I need to see about starting on a preventer inhaler as well?

26 Replies

  • You need to think in relative terms not absolute. A good reading for me, for example, is approaching 600, but I'm a 6 foot 3 bloke.

    Charts like this one ( will help you judge. As a rule, your asthma action plan will indicate getting help at percentile trigger points, so if it is dropping below around 80% of normal (or whatever your adviser has suggested) then I'd speak to your surgery.

  • By comparison I'm a 5'3 30 something year old woman and my pb is 570!

  • That all depends on the person

    I know a person of my age and height should blow 627 (I've never done that)

    I can blow 530-550 on a good day And normally blow 500-510

    However I have recently had a peak flow of 350 (can definitely feel the difference)

    Colds and flu are really common known asthma triggers, I'd be asking your self when you are well (no cold/ flu ) would a preventer help you anymore?

    It's also possible that your asthma is changing and maybe you do need to modify your medication or you have a chest infection (I used to need anti biotics every time I Cought a cold at one point when I was younger )


  • Thanks folks... Well I a 5ft 3 female... A good peak flow for me is around 420-450... At the moment I'm blowing 280 - 350...

    I tend to need antibiotics a lot of the time when I have a cold however I feel more wheezy and crackly than I have in a long long time... I was put on a preventer around 12 years ago after repeated chest infections over the course of 6 months or so... I never kept up the routine of the preventer as I moved away for uni and was at a different practice.. I am now back at my old practice however have not been to the asthma clinic in a long time. I think it may be time for a visit. I will be seeing the nurse in a few weeks for my flu jab so will ask her while I am there

  • U need to see a doctor u might need steriods if u hav inflammation im ur lungs. Usually if peak flow drops and blue inhaler doesnt help c doctor asap. Hope u improve soon. Make surevu hsv correct inhaler technique. always breathe out to empty yr lungs of air before u puff ur blue inhaler. Take care

  • It sounds like you really need to go back to Dr's ASAP, A preventer is only a preventer if you use it. Stop it and you are unprotected within a few days. Sorry I sound kind of mothering guess what I am. Please be kind to yourself You wouldn't be having a flu jab if you didn't quality just ventolin doesn't warrant it. I didn't have one til last year when mine got worse. A cold sensied my air ways had to take regular ventolin for a couple of days after. Please ring asthma UK helpline tomorrow. They know their stuff and will list not to you and give you professional advice. I hope and pray your better soon.

  • Hi it sounds like you need to use your preventer again. This opens the airways so you can breathe better. The reliever (ventolin) should be used when you are extra breathless, as and when you need it. I would make an appointment with your doctor and get it sorted.

    Your peak and flow will drop when you have a cold and/or a chest infection etc. and this is nothing to be alarmed about. I am female, 62, 5 foot 8 and my average reading is 350. x

  • People, you're not reading the post properly. This lady says she has never had a preventer. Definitely need to see your GP about asthma control. Having and using a preventer is very important. As for peak flow..... I am a 73 year old, 5,'2 female and my 'normal' is 150! About 15 years age was 200, but now I'm pleased if I blow 160 which is rare. Everyone is different and I've never had a lot of faith in peak flow readings. Good luck.

  • Samsgran - she said in her reply (3rd post down) that she had preventer 12 years ago but stopped taking it.

    Cazt 87 - eally does sound like you need a preventer, do get to the GP as soon as you can. You probably need anitbiotics and/or steroids as well.

    Look after yourself :-)

  • Whoops, me that didn't read properly then! Apologies, had not noticed that post was from the original poster. Whatever, she needs to get back on a preventer!

  • If technique is wrong then readings will be wrong. Check this at ur local.chemist. then u lnow ur doing peak flow correctly

  • I've been in hospital more than I've been at home this year, think they may have noticed if I was doing it wrong, but thanks for the thought.

  • I went to a specialist respiratory clinic last week 60 miles from us, they told me not only was I using the wrong spacer for my inhaler but I was taking it wrong, both having been checked by my GP and a consultant at my local hospital !! So annoying!! Def worth checking :-)

  • My PF is around 400/450 when good, if it drops to 350/300 I usually need to start steroids and/or antibiotics so I would definitely go back to your GP. Does sound like you need to get back on that reliever as well! Be kind to yourself, you don't want to end up in hospital.

  • As others have mentioned, peak flow is determined by a number of factors so as much as its a helpful indicator, it is by no means the only determinant as to how you may be reacting and what course of action you should pursue. If your chest is crackling then the chances are there could well be an infection lurking in there. See your gp. Preventers are as they say and take a while before they reach full efficacy. Your gp will determine if this is required if your asthma is becoming less stable (without a cold).

  • The most important thing is, if you are showing a consistent downward trend, you need to go and see your GP, and that means today, not in a few weeks when you see the Asthma Nurse. A drop from 420-450 down to 350 means you need to start extra treatment now. We do not want it to drop any further. Please see your GP today.

  • I would make a appointment with your doctor if think you will need a second inhaler. I suffer worse in the winter is have 2 inhalers and take a tablet at night as my peak flow goes right down to 250 in the summer it's 400 I hope this helps.

  • Hi not related to this question but is anyone on 10mg prednisolone daily for life and if so how does ir help asthma control. Recently puton this medication since my inhaled steriods are not helping me enougj. I hate to hav to.take these but without them i am.constantly short of breath and wheezing. We all know there are lots of side effects from steriods. Any views wud be welcome. Thank u.

  • Mine is about 290, which just means it has less to drop before I am in trouble, I am 62 and 1.66 metres tall, and I am capable of moderate cycling on that.

  • Thanks for all the replies everyone... I didn't manage to get a GP appointment this morning. There were no emergency appointments left by the time I got thru on the phone.. I will try again tomorrow as you need to phone up each morning...

    In the mean time I will keep monitoring my peak flow and how I feel and if it gets any worse this evening them I will call nhs 24....

    Iv had asthma since a very small child and I am almost 30 now... I am well accustomed to the routines of peak flow metres and inhalers

  • Each person is different. I'm 5 ft 4 and my best blows are 450-470. But I know if I drop to 390-400 it's time to up my steroids and if I drop to 330 it's time to go to hospital. It's different for allb people. But once you understand how your body reacts it's a great way to tell what's coming with your asthma xx

  • I'm age 70 , weight 12/10 ,, height 5' 3 "" ,and if I can huff out 350/75 that's great for me ,we are all different ,

  • my readin age and height is exactly the same as yours! your post has eased my worry thanks

  • I'm a 46 year old 5'2" woman with a pf of 480 when I'm well. Unfortunately I seem to have long exacerbations about once every 4 years where things go downhill. Currently been on prednisolone for 13 days, in hospital last week and currently 290 which feels rubbish.

    You need to get down the doctors, a new preventer inhaler won't even start to work for about 2 weeks so something needs doing now. Trouble is doctors don't always think it's that urgent if you've been ticking along like that for a while. They are remarkably laissez-faire with our health and the receptionists try and play God with the booking system.

    I luckily got through on the dot of 8am this morning. Complete fluke. As soon as I said I came out of hospital on Thursday there's an appointment today! Be assertive. You don't want to end up at A&E!

  • Unless your Peak Flow is significantly low for your age and build, if your current issue is so far 'very short term', you may want to just get a Spirometry Test and try and avoid immediately progressing on to a Daily Preventer unless your GP says it's critical that you use one. It's possible that once any infection or irritant is no longer present, you may quickly feel better. Once you're on long term preventative Meds you may rapidly become dependent on them (like nearly every Asthmatic is) and never get off. While preventer Meds are a blessing for those who can't do without them, part of the trade-off is the side-effects (both long and short term of inhaled steroids and LABAs). Many Asthmatics suffer bronchial irritation from daily drugs they genuinely need (or are told they need) and lung irritation caused by those drugs can itself contribute to further daily lung inflammation and to continued need for Meds that are hindering while also helping. This is true for inhaled steroids and LABAs. I'm not a medical professional, so take proper advise but also make sure you do some deep research on good health websites so you know all the pros and cons of what you're advised to inhale or swallow.

  • You can get a chart on the internet by googling peak flow level or something similar, but it is only a guide and not set in stone.

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