Asthma attack and peak flow advice - Asthma UK communi...

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Asthma attack and peak flow advice

Carolinewelburn profile image


I would like some advice please, I observed someone having an asthma attack at work yesterday the occupational health were trying to get them to complete peak flow measurements during the attack. This seemed wrong to me but they said that is correct procedure. Could someone please advise is it standard to complete peak flow on someone experiencing an asthma attack? Thank you

11 Replies
EmmaF91 profile image
EmmaF91Community Ambassador


PF is one measure of severity for asthma. It’s now being done less and less in a&e as it’s really difficult to do when you’re having a flare up (as you probably saw). It is not required as part of protocol or procedure in medical practice tho it may be policy at your workplace (tho it’s out of date). However if the attack isn’t obviously severe it may be done to decide if hospital is required or not.

IMO for a first aider PF is useless, it’s the asthmatic who should decide if they need hospital or not (unless they are a child or obviously bad)

Hope that explains things a bit

Thank you so much for your reply, it is really helpful thank you xx

Asthma UK have volunteer speakers who could come in and explain best practice to your OH team. Get someone to have a chat with the people at asthmaUK.

Thank you do much I think that would be really useful.

Use thier asthma plan if they have one and that will give you an idea of what they should reach and need below a certain amount but never try and do it when they are having an attack. I saw someone have an attack and got it controlled then done the peak flow after 10 minutes to get a reading. It was A&E job. You could also ask your employer to send people on a training course what to do when someone is having an asthma attack

Lysistrata profile image
LysistrataCommunity Ambassador

Agree with what everyone else has said. In addition, a workplace should never be using peak flow to dictate to someone how bad they are and what they need - not saying your OH dept was but for example my peak flow might not drop below 50% even in a bad attack so that should not be used to decide if they are ok (especially if their personal best is different from what is predicted for age/height etc).

It sounds a bit strange to me because every asthmatic has their own baseline and their own threshold for when things have dropped below that and of course their own plan from their doctors. What's very low for one person may not be for the next. For example, right now my FEV1 is 21% and I just got discharged from hospital. I don't know my peak flow right now but it's never even close to normal. For someone who is used to FEV1 70% and much higher peak flow, 21% would probably mean an ambulance and almost certainly an admission. I agree with people who have said ask them to contact Asthma UK for education on current protocols and procedures.

Thank you all, will contact Asthma UK xxx

in reply to Carolinewelburn

Good luck with what you decide to do. I hope you have found all the advice we given useful

Carolinewelburn profile image
Carolinewelburn in reply to

You have all been really helpful thank you so much

in reply to Carolinewelburn

I am pleased to hear what we have shared has helped you so much.

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