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Old 08-24-2008, 12:41 PM   #1
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peak flow rates

Can anyone help me with figuring this out? I'm confused on peak flow rates. I have a peak flow meter that I'm supposed to use every day to assess things. My personal best is 480 but the best I'm ever able to get is 410. Last night it was 390. It's gone as low as 350 occasionally. That's without experiencing any significant symptoms. At 350 I might feel a bit out of breath but nothing major. I don't really understand the whole personal best thing. Am I supposed to be able to get 480 if treatment is going well? Or is that just a maximum? I always blow in the yellow range. My ranges are:

Green: 480 and above
Yellow: between 240 and 480
Red: 240 and below

Does that even sound right? My yellow zone seems awfully large.

Thanks!

 
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Old 08-24-2008, 03:23 PM   #2
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Re: peak flow rates

Who says these are your zones? If your personal best is 480, why on earth does your green zone start there? And how old are you, how tall, how much do you weigh?

 
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Old 08-24-2008, 06:45 PM   #3
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Re: peak flow rates

I was told that if you are 80-100% then you are in the green zone.
50-80% is yellow zone
under 50% is considered red zone

 
Old 08-24-2008, 07:33 PM   #4
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Re: peak flow rates

Sorry, I still don't get what you are saying. Who told you and on what basis? If your all time best is 480, there is NO WAY YOUR green zone is higher than that. Seriously, you need to more information or clarification from your pulmonologist.

 
Old 08-24-2008, 09:46 PM   #5
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Re: peak flow rates

sorry was only looking for information. Titchu, you sound upset or something and I'm not sure what I said to cause that. Sorry!

I'm 24 years old, am female, small build, 5'3" and 105 lbs. My doctor didn't tell me what my zones were when she gave me the peak flow meter. A booklet came with it and it said in there how to set your zones and numbers. It said according to my age, and everything my personal best should be 480. Which is also the number my doctor does use as a guideline. That was the only number I knew starting out.

I'm just trying to figure out my numbers, that's all, just thought someone here could help clarify for me.

 
Old 08-24-2008, 11:44 PM   #6
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Re: peak flow rates

I've done a lot of research into peak flow numbers because mine don't fit the charts either. First of all, it sounds like the charts are telling you you should be able to get a 480. This doesn't mean that 480 is your "personal best". It means that 480 is average. However, the average only takes age, height, and sex into account, not built or any other factors that could affect your own peak flow.

I, for example, am very broad-shouldered and have a fairly large build, although I'm only 5'8", and I'm pretty athletic. My own peak flow is a lot higher than the charts say is average, and I get into trouble when my peak flow drops all the way down to what the average is.

To a large degree it's based on the size of your lungs/chest--height and sex are only the two most easily determined factors.

But, because peak flow readings are a part of ER and Urgent Care protocols, where there isn't much an established history much of the time, people end up paying unwarranted attention to the charts.

The first step is to make sure you're doing it right--blowing HARD and FAST.

The second step is to record your readings a couple times a day for a couple of weeks--when you are fairly healthy. The highest number you get on a fairly regular basis is your personal best. So, if you usually only manage to get a 410, then your personal best is 410.

That would mean that your "green zone" is 328-410, your "yellow zone" is 205-328, and your "red zone" is anything below 205. The danger in going by the charts is that you could get unnecessary treatments, if you seek treatment for an attack and your peak flow only rises to your green zone, it could still be in the yellow zone for someone who is average, as seen in the chart. Of course, this is all dependent on you using the meter correctly.

Me, I have the opposite issue: My peak flows tend to appear freakishly high for someone having an asthma attack; they only drop down to a little below what the charts say is average for my height/sex/age. This means that I usually end up getting evaluated a couple of times, since no one is sure what to make of the numbers. It is useful to be able to show what your numbers usually are and how they are different when you are having trouble.

I actually switched from one model of pfm that gave me seemingly random high and low outlying numbers all the time to another that is much more consistent. It took me about six weeks to get it sorted out, and now I don't use it every day anymore. Mostly I use it if I'm feeling unwell or when I have a cold or when I'm having some of the symptoms from the list MountainReader posted here a while back, to make sure I'm doing ok.

 
Old 08-25-2008, 12:13 AM   #7
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Re: peak flow rates

Thank you snowdrift, that was very helpful! I've been recording my peak flow rates for sometime now and the best I've ever gotten was 410, what you said makes perfect sense. My doctor hasn't done a very good job with explaining these things. She did mention referring me to a pulmonologist but hasn't done it yet. That might help though because she doesn't always seem like she knows what she is doing. I'll adjust the clips on my meter to the ones you listed. I probably read the book wrong also. I was getting a bit worried thinking that if I'm sitting in the yellow all the time despite treatment then something must be wrong. Makes more sense now though.

 
Old 08-25-2008, 05:18 AM   #8
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Re: peak flow rates

momtobaby1: I was not upset. Sorry you thought that. I was trying to give emphasis because all you said you was that you "were told" and never said by whom or where you were getting your information.

Now, that being said, anyone with asthma should be under the care of a pulmonologist. GPs just generally don't have the expertise to deal with it. I'm sure you have a good doctor - my GP is great too - has an MD and a PhD. So he's no dummy. But, he also admits I need a pulmonologist for my asthma. When you see one, you should get a written plan (this is the recommendation of NIH) for your treatment. It will tell you what to do when you have a cold, have an attack, etc. For example, I am on one puff of Flovent daily. If I have problems or get sick, I am to increase that to two puffs a day until I get well or the cause passes. If that doesn't take care of it, then I call in. I've had asthma for about 12 years now (I'm 62) so I pretty much know how to handle episodes and my asthma is very well controlled. I tossed my meter as I can tell without it when I'm having a problem.

Good luck!

 
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