Asthma and the peak flow meter

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Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2012
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 3/25/2012 9:25 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello everyone,
I've had asthma sine I was little (I'm 26 now) and while I never had too many problems growing up, the last three years have been tough. I'm not sure whats exactly wrong, but I've been to a pulmonologist, allergist and my regular  doctor and haven't gotten good results. One thing that makes no sense to me however, is the peak flow meter.
I understand how to use it properly and have had one for a long time. The problem is, even when I am having a lot of trouble breathing, coughing up yellow phlegm, etc, I can ALWAYS push myself to get a higher then average number on it. Trying to take a deep breath in when my lungs seem to be inflammed does hurt, but since they always ask you to blow your hardest, I push it up there. What frustrates me is when I do this at all of the doctors offices they see that and say " well that looks good! You don't seem to have asthma", even though I've been diagnosed with it almost since birth and have all these other symptoms.
Do any of you asthma sufferers have this issue? I just don't understand why every doctor relys on it so much to tell them the details. I realize how it's suppose to help people with the asthma action plan, but if I can always score good on it even though i'm having a lot of trouble, then what does that mean? >_<

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2011
Total Posts : 166
   Posted 3/28/2012 11:30 PM (GMT -6)   
I only recently have been diagnosed with mild asthma. My Pulmonologist and Allergist both say not to become obsessed with the peak flow meter; it's more important to see how you feel. It's meant to be a guideline.

What are you using for your preventative medication? I started with Advair 250/50 but had to stop taking it as it caused muscle cramps and fatigue. I'm now on Qvar and Ventolin as needed.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 9664
   Posted 3/30/2012 10:54 AM (GMT -6)   
I had pneumonia in January 2010 and I could still get good peak flow readings and
my doctors couldn't hear it, so it showed up on an x-ray and by then I had a high
fever as well, so yes it can be very disappointing to get good scores on these tests.........
However, if your feeling ill get into your doctor and maybe consider switching to another allergy doctor....
(it took 3 rounds of an antibotic to clear me up and nebulizer treatments, and I also broke 2
ribs doctor has yet heard the pneumonia, but x-rays showed it)
* So many dx's I could write a book* "It would be nice if we could use the edit button in real life"...

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 7188
   Posted 3/31/2012 4:25 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi supa,
Yes, throughout many of my visits to my allergist, I am generally winning prizes for my spirometry scores.  One of my allergists always told me that he wished he had as good a lung capacity as I do.
Even during times when I was coughing up mucous and felt tightness in my lungs, my spirometry was always quite good.
Go figure.  Like you, I'm mystified!  It's quite frustrating, because it always makes me feel as if I lose credibility once I blow a good score. 
Best wishes,

New Member

Date Joined Aug 2012
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 8/30/2012 6:22 PM (GMT -6)   
I am the opposite. I am healthy and normally do not have any problems with asthma except occasionally when I exercise. My peak flow tests show improvements (~15%) after a couple puffs of Ventolin. So they recommend me to use Qvar 80 for a month. I kinda argue with my pulmonologist saying if my body tells me I'm fine and well, maybe I should not use any inhalers for long term at all. So he suggested me to use it for a month (I negotiate to one puff--instead of two--a day), then use a peak flow meter during that time. After a month I should compare if the peak flow from Day 30 is better or the same as Day 1. If it's the same as Day 1, then I truly do not need Qvar or any other long term inhaling regiment. He thinks that my lung capacity can have some marginal improvement, which I could benefit from Qvar usage.

Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2012
Total Posts : 151
   Posted 9/10/2012 5:36 AM (GMT -6)   
I’ve always had high peak flow readings for my gender/size. Even though one of my lungs (forget which) is actually smaller than the other and as such I should be well below average.
I blame my paediatrician. He used to tell me I’d get a lolly if I blew it past a certain number and $5 if I blew it off the end. My sister who has similar asthma to me once blew 580 with a partially collapsed lung.
Another doctor once told me that it’s not so much an indicator of Asthma, but of muscle fatigue and general fatigue. Being an asthmatic all my life, my auxiliary muscles are pretty strong. I’ve never had a problem with the “force all the air out as hard as possible” thing… It’s the next few minutes where I might not be able to get air back in that are the problem.
(I have cough variant asthma, so the exhale has never been a problem for me. I cough everything out then choke.)

New Member

Date Joined Sep 2012
Total Posts : 11
   Posted 9/28/2012 4:12 AM (GMT -6)   
If you are convinced that you have asthma, you could ask to have a methacholine challange test. Im sure theyve already ruled out Gerd and postnasal drip, of course.

New Member

Date Joined Oct 2012
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 10/2/2012 12:14 AM (GMT -6)   
Supa and Rufous! Thank you!! I feel so validated. I joined Healing Well tonight after Googling 'chest pain' and finding a number of fascinating asthma/allergy threads on this site. One of my biggest frustrations is that my asthma and allergies have significantly worsened since my childhood and seem to be more of an internal struggle than an easily classifiable or testable one. I have chronic chest tightness, pain and sinus reactions to minor allergen exposures. I recently sat on a blanket that had been on a cat hair-covered sofa briefly and I fell into a full-blown allergy attack that lasted four days (and sleepless nights) before transforming into a sinus infection. It's now been ten days and I'm still constantly yawning, wheezing and suffering chest tightness and pain. And--yes--my peak flow has been perfect every morning and evening. 470. At my height and age it should be around 430.

I'm so happy to have found this community of fellow allergy and asthma sufferers!!

New Member

Date Joined Oct 2012
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 10/12/2012 1:03 AM (GMT -6)   
One thing that might be interesting. Lots of us with asthma from early childhood can have larger lungs. I have to get two xrays if I don't warn the technician first :)

My peak flows are always good and my oxygen levels are always fine but my asthma is classified "uncontrollable", my IGE runs about 1700 and I'm on Xolair (top dose). Oh, and not only are the allergies off the chart but I'm type1 diabetic... I have yet to find another of me on this forum or anywhere!

Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2014
Total Posts : 44
   Posted 10/29/2014 9:40 AM (GMT -6)   
Maybe it means that you don't have any damage in your lungs?
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