Peak Flow Meters

Peak flow meters can be invaluable tools in your asthma management program. A peak flow meter is a small hand-held instrument used to measure how fast air can travel through the large airways of your lungs. The peak flow meter records the "peak" or highest airflow as air leaves your lungs. The device measures air flowing out of the lungs, called peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR), as a person with asthma forcefully blows into the device. In this way, you will have an indicator of how open your airways are - and if your asthma management program is working.

The most important thing about peak flow meters is that they can detect narrowing of your airways before you are "in trouble". This can be key information in the development of a good asthma management approach for you.
When you experience asthma symptoms, your large airways narrow. They may become "obstructed". Air passes through more slowly and your peak flow "falls". This is critical information for your doctor to determine if your medication is working effectively enough for you.

By using a peak flow meter, you become more involved with your asthma management. You will be able to provide your doctor with measurements of your airway obstruction in the moment when you are having an asthma attack. This information, along with a description of your symptoms and your doctor's physical examination, helps you and your doctor design an effective treatment plan for you.

Changes in your peak flow can help you to:

  1. Detect early changes in your airways before you are even aware that your asthma may be getting worse. You can modify your medication schedule as advised by your physician before you have 'an attack'.
  2. Determine your unique triggers for asthma. Airway measurement combined with identification of conditions in your environment may help you to manage your asthma more effectively.
  3. Determine whether your medications are working as they should. Medications can be adjusted (increased, changed or decreased) per your physician's advice, as needed.
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