Peak flow: Hi, I need some advice... - Asthma UK communi...

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Peak flow

Babschap profile image

Hi, I need some advice please. I’ve never suffered with Asthma till just over a year ago when I discovered that I had irrational of the airways.

Anyway, my problem is that my peak flow meter readings are always between 150 and 200. I have no cough, no feeling of tightness in my chest, but nevertheless my consultant has put me on a steroid inhaler.

I think it’s inportant to mention that I’ve never actually experienced an attack in the usual my people mention. Mine just seems to be Wheezing.

10 Replies

Peak flow is one of them *weird things*.... with asthma everyone medical wants to know your number but it only really works when you've established a baseline

I.e... for my age and height and gender (male) my peak flow should be 620 ish according the the established averages

Now I've been asthmatic since I was born and never ever got "the norm"... I used to swim 25meters under water at my fittest and could hold my breath for 2.5-3mins .... even then my peak flow was lower than it should be

Now I'm in 30's and My peak flow is 570-580 and doesn't venture outside that unless there's something going on ... like now I've had a viral infection and developed a chest infection needing antibiotics and steroids (which unfortunately isn't out of the ordinary for me) and I went from my norm to 400 quickly and got back to 500 ish but started getting worse

So while 200 is low for me if your a female then the peak flow is normally lower than the male anyway... my sister is 30 and she only ever blows 400 and has run slightly more than a marathon for charity (and had mild asthma when she was younger but hasn't had an Inhaler for years)

So yes peak flow is a *usefull* tool to have in the arsenal when you want to know what's going on its not the only tool and it only works once you've been doing it for a while and established your normal pattern .... there are apps that you can use on your phone to make a note and record peak flow (I use Asthma MD)

For example my peak flow drops of a winter (no idea why and no medical professional can tell me why either) .... so of a winter I know my best peak flow is 550 ... until the weather starts getting better and it increases

Hope that helps

Chip

Babschap profile image
Babschap in reply to Chip_y2kuk

Thank you Chip. Since being told that my PF values are low I have been suffering anxiety about it. I just wish I’d never gone to the doctor about my Wheeze, it’s turned me into a hypochondriac, but your reply has helped.

Chip_y2kuk profile image
Chip_y2kuk in reply to Babschap

No worries

but like I said while peak flow is one symptom I've had a bacterial chest infection both my lungs have had crackles I've felt like I've been battered and my peak flow has still been 450 ish (which although puts me in the "yellow" peak flow zone isn't as terrible as my chest felt and sounded apparently)

It's a tool and like any tool with a "full" picture gets you a good idea of what's going on..

For me my peak flow drops slightly and I develop a cough if I can nip it in the bud quickly it normally goes at that however if I don't notice or ignore it ... it gets worse and my peak flow will *eventually* plumet I end up with crackles which they normally associate with bacterial infection however they now think for me at least that, that's mucus getting stuck in my lung and the gradually getting worse cough and lower peak flow is my lungs trying to clear that mucus (mucus production Is a part of the inflammation process for the airways)

So I wouldn't get too hung up on numbers until you know what your "best" average peak flow is ... ive blown 650 but I was "medically" high as a kite at the time .... which is above what I should for my age and height

Hi Babschap.A steroid inhaler is standard issue in the asthma toolkit. (Commonly a reviewed to ics)

The purpose of a steroid inhaler is to reduce/prevent inflammation of the airways. Quite often people a given a combination inhaler, which also contains medication to help to keep the airways open ( abbreviated to laba) The effect of this lasts for 12 hours, so it needs to be taken 12 hours apart.

You may also have a blue inhaler, your rescue inhaler. This one opens your airways for 4 hours, which you take when you have symptoms, which from what you have said would be when you wheeze. Unless you are on a mart regime you really should really have one.

As has already been mentioned your peak flow at this stage doesn’t really tell you much, but it would be a good idea to take it at least daily. That way you will begin to learn how it behaves and be aware of the ups and downs. It will also help your Dr/Asthma nurse to see how you are going on day to day and will help them to decide on the best medication for you.

When I was first diagnosed my peak flow was 100.

I monitored it and watched it rise gradually over weeks and months - a nice feeling!

Your steroid inhaler does not make any dramatic improvement to begin with, but gradually you will see improvement.

Babschap profile image
Babschap in reply to Troilus

Thank you for the advice. I can’t take the Blue inhaler as it makes me have palpitations and dizziness. However, I am getting on with the steroid one ok.

Troilus profile image
Troilus in reply to Babschap

Have you told your GP/asthma nurse about your reaction to your blue inhaler? I’m just thinking that the mart regime might be an option for you. This is where you use your preventer inhaler as a reliever. Might be worth asking about.

Babschap profile image
Babschap in reply to Troilus

Yes, I have told them as it’s quite a severe reaction I get. Very scary! Hence why I just have the steroid inhaler.

Troilus profile image
Troilus in reply to Babschap

In which case, I would be inclined to ask about a course of prednisone. It is an oral steroid taken for 5 days which will help to get rid of the inflammation much more quickly than the steroid inhaler alone.

Chip_y2kuk profile image
Chip_y2kuk in reply to Babschap

Its the bronchodilator it's a common side effect unfortunately

If you switch to a combination inhaler (steroid and long acting bronchodilator) beware as the bronchidilator in those is longer lasting.... so may cause you more of a problem than salbutamol

Just something to be aware of

It appears from your peak flow readings that your asthma is having a considerable effect on your breathing. Has your consultant talked about antihistamines and montelukast a tablet taken at night they have both helped my asthma.I have a coughing asthma which is very annoying for all around me but manage a reasonable peak flow reading. I also exercise with my dog every day maybe 2 miles which aids the capacity of the lungs.

I hope this is helpful and wish you improved breathing.

Take care.

Bob

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