Use of Peak-Flow Meters
- We talked about how you actually take your medication and how simple the process is. How about using a peak-flow meter? Is it that difficult, Dr. Stempel?
- Dr. Stempel:
- Peak-flow meters are very simple to use. It’s just taking in a deep breath and then blowing out very quickly, much like one would blow out a candle. It’s very simple to do. We usually ask people to repeat it a couple of times, and then to record the best of three efforts. That will give us an idea as to whether or not there was just an effort dependent mistake or whether or not the mouth was incorrectly around the mouthpiece, but this is a very simple tool, it’s very inexpensive.Peak flows really have two main uses. One is to warn us that there’s an upcoming negative event that the lung functions are starting to go down, and it gives us some warning that we need to increase medications. But a very frequent question that our patients ask us is, “how much longer do I need to stay on these medicines?” And peak flows allow us to follow patients very closely at home, and determine when along the course of the illness it’s time to reduce medications. So they’re helpful both in increasing medications when symptoms are getting worse, like during our common respiratory infection that’s triggering their asthma, and they’re also good to tell us, hey, it’s about time to reduce the medications.
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