Using A Peak Flow Meter

1. Find Your Personal Best Peak Flow Number The first step is to find your personal best peak flow number.

To find your personal best peak flow number, take your peak flow every day for 2 to 3 weeks. It is best to do this during a period when your asthma is well controlled - when you feel good and do not have any asthma symptoms.

Take your peak flow at the same time every day.

Right after you take your quick-relief medicine to relieve symptoms Any other time your doctor suggests

Write down the number you get for each peak flow reading. The highest peak flow number you have during the 2 to 3 weeks is your personal best.

Your personal best can change over time. Ask your doctor when to check for a new personal best.

2. Use Your Personal Best to Help Make Treatment Decisions

The next step is to mark your peak flow zones: Your peak flow zones are based on your personal best peak flow number. The zones will help you monitor your asthma and take the right actions to keep it under control. The colors used with each zone come from the traffic light.

Green Zone (80 to 100 percent of your personal best) signals good control. If you take daily long-term control medicines, keep taking them. And keep taking them even when you are in the yellow or red zones.

Yellow Zone (50 to 79 percent of your personal best) signals caution: your asthma is getting worse. Add quick-relief medicines, as spelled out in your written asthma action plan. You might also need to increase other asthma medicines; ask your doctor.

Red Zone (below 50 percent of your personal best) signals medical alert! Add or increase quick-relief medicines according to instructions in your action plan and call your doctor now.

3. Use Your Peak Flow Meter To Check How Well Your Asthma Is Controlled

You can use your peak flow meter in several ways to check how well your asthma is controlled.

  • Every morning when you wake up, before taking your asthma medicine. Make this part of your daily routine. Check this number against the peak flow number on your action plan to make sure your asthma is under control.
  • When you are having asthma symptoms or an attack. First take your medicine for the attack. Then take your peak flow. This will help you see if the medicine is working for you or if you need more treatment.
  • Any other time your doctor suggests.

Taking Your Peak Flow

  1. Move the marker to the bottom of the numbered scale.
  2. Stand up or sit up straight.
  3. Take a deep breath - fill your lungs all the way up.
  4. Hold your breath while you place the mouthpiece in your mouth, between your teeth. Close your lips around it. Do not put your tongue inside the hole.
  5. Blow out as hard and fast as you can. Your peak flow meter will measure how fast you can blow out air.
  6. Write down the number you get. But if you cough or make a mistake, do not write down the number. Do it over again.
  7. Repeat steps 1 through 6 two more times. Write down the highest of the three numbers. This is your peak flow number.
  8. Check to see which peak flow zone your peak flow number is in. Do the actions your doctor told you to do while in that zone.


4. Ask Your Doctor To Write On Your Asthma Action Plan:

  • The numbers for each of your peak flow zones. Mark the zones on your peak flow meter with colored tape or a marker.
  • The medicines you should take while in each peak flow zone.
  • The steps you should take while in each peak flow zone.

Further Reading

Last Updated: Feb 9, 2016

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