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British Lung Foundation
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what device can measure lung function for COPD alone?

as some one to new to this situation, when I was given a "peak flow" meter by my GP, I assumed that it was for measuring how I was doing with my COPD. From what I am reading on the blog, it seems that it is for asthma alone....and not COPD? Flip, but stuff gets very confusing just when it would be a blessing if things became clear so you knew the best thing to do.

8 Replies

welcome mishawaka, understand your confusion think most of us have been that way. COPD has to be assessed by a set of special tests, most of us had these at the hospital. The peak flow meter is for asthma but can help to show how good your breathing is or not. I'm sure plenty of freinds on here will clue you up on the subject of COPD and the british lung foundation help line can give you valuable info.Good luck with searching for help to solve the confusion


It shows how well your lungs are working,,it normal no worries ... :)


Can I ask, when most people do a peak flow test, do you also have to get into that awful glass cabin thing?


As part of a full lung function test yes.


I ask because the doctors over here always do it like that. Over here being Germany. I seem to remember it being a simple hand held device in England.


There is the spirometry test and the full lung function test sometimes referred to a pulmonary function test, although I don't think either are for COPD testing alone.

This link explain two of the tests, (this is a pulmonary hypertension site but shows the spiro lung functions tests that many lung patients have annually).


The peak flow my understanding is its mainly used by people with asthma. My annual lung checks includes a peak flow reading, but I don't have asthma, I asked about this once and was told its just routine and gives a general indication about how you are on exhale.

However the NHS choices site says:

" Peak flow test

To confirm you have COPD and not asthma, your doctor might ask you to take regular measurements of your breathing using a peak flow meter, at different times over several days. The peak flow meter measures how fast you can breathe out. "



Hi, I am asthmatic(maybe got COPD as well no-one can decide!) and I have a peak flow meter which is a plastic tube with a scale and a pointer which moves to let you know what your lung capacity is at a given time. My peak flow changes slightly at different times of the day,and decreases a lot when my chest is tight and breathing difficult.

I know you have to breathe out quickly through your mouth into the device but I thought it only measured capacity not speed....how does it do that i wonder?


The wiki page may explain some more about it for you knitter:



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