Using a Peak Flow Meter and Knowing How to Manage Your Asthma
As part of your asthma treatment, you may use a handheld device, called a peak flow meter, at home to measure lung function. To use it, you take a deep breath and blow hard into a tube to find out how fast you can blow out. This gives you a peak flow number. You will need to find out your "personal best" peak flow number by recording the peak flow number daily for a few weeks until your asthma is under control. The highest number you get during that time is your personal best peak flow. Then, you can compare future measurements to your personal best, and that will show if your asthma is staying under control or not.
Your healthcare provider will tell you how and when to use your peak flow meter and how to use your medication based on the results. You may be asked to use your peak flow meter each morning to keep track of how well you are breathing. The meter can help warn of a possible asthma attack, even before you notice symptoms. If your peak flow meter shows that your breathing is getting worse, you should follow your action plan. Take your quick-relief or other medication as your doctor ordered. Then, you can use the meter to see how your airways are responding to the medication.
Ask your doctor about how you can help take care of your own asthma. You should know:
- How to take your long-term daily medication correctly
- What things tend to make your asthma worse and ways to avoid them
- Early signs to watch for that mean your asthma is starting to get worse (like a drop in your peak flow number or an increase in symptoms)
- How and when to use your peak flow meter
- What medication and how much to take to stop an asthma attack and how to use it correctly
- When to call or see your doctor
- When you should get emergency asthma treatment.