British Lung Foundation
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General lung health

Hi, I wanted to ask a question about peak flow and spirometry. Just for some background, I'm a 40 year old nonsmoker. Last year my Dad sadly died having suffered with IPF. He was still relatively young at 65. His own mother died aged 51 having had lung cancer. These things made me wonder about my own lungs and whether there is some genetic weakness there.

My 17 year old daughter has asthma so has assessments every so often and I've always wondered how much I could blow out into a peak flow tube if I tried. I asked the nurse if I could try and found that I had quite a low one at 320, me being 5" 6. I find it hard to breathe while walking and talking at the same time and had always put this down to not being sporty. I definitely started to wonder if this was normal after watching my Dad struggle during his illness.

Anyway, I went to the GP and kept a peal flow diary for two weeks. There was not much variation but it was always around 300, sometimes lower, sometimes higher. Then she sent me for spirometry which I had done yesterday. The man doing it told me that I had just passed the threshold for normal, so I was not given an inhaler to try for reversibility testing.

I suppose this hasn't left me feeling overly confident about my lungs. To have a low peak flow and now only just scrape through into the normal category doesn't seem brilliant to me. Does anyone know what this means for my general health? I am not overweight but I've never been particularly active. I don't like sitting for long periods, and I like to go walking, but that's about it. I've always found it hard to do more than that because I can't get enough air in.

Sorry to go on so long, I just am unsure what to think.

Thank you.

10 Replies
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Hello Suzanne

So sorry about your loss..I lost Dad from pneumonia before Christmas it is hard..I myself have a lung disease..

As I understand you are feeling breathless and worried about your genetic background. I would pursue the investigation. Even if you scraped by the spirometry, I would go back to the GP. You have grounds.

Let us know how you are getting on x

Fran

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Thank you Fran. Yes I'd better go back to the GP to find out more, x.

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Getting fitter should help. I got a Fitbit and gradually over the last three years increased the amount of steps I walk each day from 2500 to now 10,000. I also try to include a brisk walk or similar daily to get me slightly breathless and my hear pumping, without pushing myself too hard. I also use singing as exercise, as it helps with breath control. In this cold weather I do a lot of dancing to bouncy music indoors. My best peak flow is about 350 these days and I have moderate COPD.

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Hi Ergendl. I've just read your post and I had to laugh! ( At me, not you! ) I have an app on my phone that is basically a pedometer. The reason I'm laughing is that I was feeling quite pleased with myself because I'd increased my steps from around 7500 to just over 9000... a week! A work in progress, eh, lol. 😁

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It doesn't matter where you start, BSA-3; just that you're trying to improve on that. If you've increased by 1500 a week, you're doing OK. Keep it up, and keep improving.

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Hi, Ergendl. Your absolutely right, of course, but " dead horse" and " flogging " keep springing to mind, lol. 😥😁

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Hi ,

Well, you are doing better than me with a peak flow of 250 average I was at 350 a few years ago having had a fairly active life until then. So good luck and always do your best.

Dan

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lisen to wot I have to say I am 60 told me I had mild copd always had ashma 6 years ago I had the spirometry test when they said I had copd my breathing went into tite chest mode brain telling my body I was sick b cause a doctor said I had copd after acupunchre 6 weeks of it and learned a breathing tecniqe the opens your lungs b for all this I could only blow under 400 on peak flow now I can blow 550 with ease exercise your lungs to the limit don't let them get weak just like muscles if not used they get very weak and small

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Thank you for all your comments. Yes I do need to make more of an effort with exercise. The examples that Ergendl gave are all do-able for me. I can only try to improve my overall health and hope that this benefits my lungs. I think that watching my Dad struggling with his breathing, movement, weight, etc, made me consider more whether my own small struggles with breathing were the precursor to something more serious. No-one can look into the future and know exactly what will happen, but genetics must play a part. The spirometry test did not really make me feel much better about it. I know it could have been worse though, and I did scrape into the normal zone.

Thanks for taking the time,

Suzanne

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Hi I agree with everything that has been said but what is equally as important is excercising with weights. I am not a gym bunny but forced myself to go and the difference it has made to my breathing is amazing. Any good trainer will go through the correct excercises and then you can adapt and use equipment at home - water filled juice bottles and resistance bands are good. Keep up the walking -anything cardio! (I was diagnosed 15 years ago COPD and have kept my lung function above 60% and peak flow around 300)

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