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Peak Flow Meter

Peak Flow Meter

A peak flow meter can help track changes in your child's breathing.

Your health care provider might suggest you use a peak flow meter to help manage your child’s asthma. This device shows how well the air is moving out of her lungs by measuring her ability to push air out in one fast blast. Your child may not yet have felt a change in her airways, but a peak flow meter will show these changes clearly.

A peak flow meter can help your child understand the warning signs of worsening symptoms. Using a peak flow meter can help you and your child track his breathing and help him understand his warning signs. You’ll keep track of your child’s peak flow during different periods—when his asthma is in good control, and when it’s not. When you see the peak flow meter reading drop, you’ll both know that his asthma is starting to get worse.

If the peak flow reading goes below his normal level, be sure to follow the steps on your child’s Asthma Action Plan.

When to Use a Peak Flow Meter

You and your child’s health care provider may decide that peak flow monitoring is a necessary step in managing your child’s asthma. Here are some examples of when to use your peak flow meter:

  1. In the morning to see if your child’s symptoms have worsened overnight.
  2. If you are observing a symptom or if you think your child is experiencing a symptom.
  3. After your child takes quick-relief medicine to see if symptoms are improving or worsening.
  4. To determine your child’s personal best and Asthma Action Plan zones. Your child’s health care provider can help with this step.
  5. Follow the instructions below to determine your child’s peak flow rate. Measure your child’s peak flow rate at about the same time daily or when your child may be having symptoms. Keep a chart of your child’s peak flow rates and talk about the readings with your health care provider.

How to Use a Peak Flow Meter

  1. Slide the marker or arrow to the bottom of the numbered scale.
  2. Have your child stand up straight. Make sure her mouth is clear from food or gum.
  3. Use these instructions: Take a deep breath, as deep as you can. Put the mouthpiece of the peak flow meter into your mouth. Close your lips tightly around the mouthpiece. Be sure to keep your tongue away from the mouthpiece. In one breath, blow out as hard and as fast as possible. Blow a “fast hard blast” like you’re blowing out a birthday candle, until you have emptied out nearly all of the air from your lungs.
  4. The force of air coming out of your child’s lungs will move the marker. Compare the color on your peak flow meter with your child’s Asthma Action Plan and follow action the steps within the zone.
Asthma Triggers
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Learn how controlling triggers can reduce your child’s asthma symptoms.

Asthma Action Plan
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Use this convenient form to help manage your child’s asthma.

Medicine Quiz
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Take this quiz to get answers about your child's asthma medicines.