After a recent conversation with a respiratory therapist, we realized that we need to tell you more about this important piece of equipment. She explained why peak flow meters are essential for monitoring your respiratory treatment. Subtle changes in your lungs can be detected quickly with regular peak flow readings, even before symptoms appear.

Personal Best Peak Flow MeterWhat is a peak flow meter? A peak flow meter is a small hand-held device that measures how fast air comes out of the lungs when a person exhales forcefully. This measurement is called a peak expiratory flow (PEF) and is measured in liters per minute (lpm). A person's PEF may drop hours or even days before asthma symptoms are noticeable.

How does a peak flow meter help? Readings from the meter can help you recognize early changes that may be signs of worsening asthma. A peak flow meter can also help you learn what triggers your symptoms and understand what symptoms indicate that emergency care is needed. Doctors use peak flow readings to decide when to stop or add medications.

How do you use a peak flow meter? To use a peak flow meter, begin by standing up. Take a deep breath in and exhale as hard and fast as possible. Repeat two more times (for a total of three and mark the highest of the three. This is your peak flow. Check your peak flow every day at about the same time to accurately measure trends.

What are normal ranges? The "normal" range depends on many factors like age, gender, and height. Each Personal Best Peak Flow Meter comes with a chart to help predict normal ranges. What is more important than fitting into the normal range is the variance between your daily tests. Your will learn what is "normal" for you and can judge changes from that value as a change in your respiratory condition.

What do you do with the results? Keep a log of your peak expiratory flow. If you start to notice increases or decreases, take note of your current regimen. If you notice progressive decreases, contact your healthcare provider to adjust your treatment. NEVER make adjustments without speaking with your healthcare provider.

Philips Respironics offers and inexpensive, popular peak flow meter. It highlights the 3 zones of asthma management so you can make objective decisions about the effectiveness of your medication. A sturdy carrying case allows you to easily take it with you.