Peak Flow Meter COPD, Why and What

March 17, 2023
Andrew Gallagher
3 Min Read

Peak Flow Meter COPD

Peak Expiratory Flow Rate (PEFR), or commonly referred to within the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma patient communities as "peak flow", is a measurement used to analyze the volume of air that someone can have in their lungs. It is typically used to monitor the conditions; COPD and asthma. It requires the patient to exhale as hard as they can through a device, the maximum speed of their exhale is the peak flow, measured in either liters per second or liters per minute. PEFR is measured with a peak flow meter for COPD. Everyone will have a different peak flow reading, and an individual's peak flow will change with time as their COPD progresses and as they get older.

Can a peak flow meter be used for COPD?

Peak flow meters are generally associated with asthma. However, there is no reason they can’t be used for COPD. Peak flow meters for COPD are generally inexpensive and can usually bought at a pharmacy or on amazon. Digital peak flow meters are more expensive but can make it easier to track your peak flow over time.

What is Peak Flow used for in COPD?

Peak flow meters are used in COPD and asthma to monitor the conditions over time. Your PEFR is generally correlated with the severity of your COPD. If your PEFR is lowering over time, it can mean that your COPD is getting worse. If you notice it declining be sure to check with your doctor?

What Factors Influence a Person's Peak Flow?

As mentioned above, a person's peak flow reading has a number of different factors that influence the result. These different factors include Age, Height, Sex, Condition Severity, and Race.

What Should my Peak Flow be COPD?

Everbody's peak flow is different, start by using your peak flow meter to monitor your COPD, then you can look for changes to your peak flow scores.

What you should look out for is dramatic decreases in your peak flow over a short amount of time. If this happens, it may be alternating you to an acute exacerbation.

What peak flow indicates copd?

Your peak flow will decrease if you are having an exacerbation,or if your condition is uncontrolled. Take your medication as instructed when your peak flow measurements decrease. If you are doing an activity that makes your condition worse - potentially trigger for a COPD exacerbation- stop it immediately. If your symptoms don't improve, seek medical help as directed in your management plan.

📖 Check out our article that explains what a management plan is and how you can create one.

Peak Flow Classification for COPD

There are 3 classifications of peak flow

HTML Table

Reading (% of estimation/personal best) Comment What to do
> 80% your disease is under control Enjoy your day
50 - 80% - your airways are narrowing - your disease is poorly controlled Take rescue medicine - if it doesn't bring relief, the symptoms are worsening, or you're back in the yellow zone in 4 hours - contact your doctor
< 50% your airways are severely narrowed Use an emergency medicine and contact professional health care immediately!

Although this classification system does come with a warning, if your peak flow is within normal ranges, but you feel unwell (tight chest, shortness of breath, trouble speaking etc.), you should consult your doctor.

Peak Flow Meter COPD Chart

You can also use a peak flow chart to get your normal (expected) peak flow value. It doesn't take race into account but is used by medical experts, mainly in Europe.

Peak flow meter chart COPD
Peak flow meter chart COPD

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