How to use a Peak Flow Meter

Peak flow meters are relatively easy to use. These instructions are provided for general information only.

Be sure to check the instructions on your specific meter.

  1. Set the indicator on the meter to the bottom of the scale before each breath. This ensures the most accurate reading possible.
  2. Take all measurements in a standing position. If you cannot stand, take all readings in the same position. That position should be as upright as possible.
  3. Remind yourself to breathe out only through your mouth, not through your nose. If necessary, use nose clips. Accuracy of your reading depends on breathing out only through your mouth.
  4. Hold your peak flow meter in a way so your fingers do not obstruct the hole in the back. If you obstruct this hole it will cause a falsely high reading.
  5. Relax and prepare before using the meter. Take a slow, deep breath in. Then, close your lips tightly around the mouthpiece to make the best seal possible.
  6. Blow out as hard and as quickly as you can. Remember that you want maximum speed of expiration. Prolonging your expiration does not make your reading higher. The "peak flow" occurs at the early part of your breath.
  7. Repeat once or twice at one time. Record the best measurement only on your peak flow record.

Remember that different brands of peak flow meters measure your peak flows differently, so be consistent with the brand you use over time. If you change brands for some reason, be sure to establish a new "baseline".

Also remember, you don't need a doctor's prescription to get a peak flow meter. These devices can be purchased over the counter at most pharmacies. However, you may want to get a recommendation from your doctor for the brand of peak flow meter that you buy. Since your doctor is working with many patients, he or she will have seen the pluses and minuses of many models and brands.

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