Peak Flow Meters
Peak flow meters are portable, inexpensive, hand-held devices used to measure how air flows out from a person's lungs, as well as monitors the intake of air into the lungs. Peak flow meters are used by patients with asthma or other lung disorders. This tool allows physicians to further determine the severity of any lung illness.
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Applications of Peak Flow Meters
Peak flow meters provide many uses for patients with asthma or lung disorders. They help determine if a patient needs to adjust his or her daily medication or can show that patients may need to change the way they are using their medicines. Because peak flow meters may help identify causes of asthma at work, home, or play, they may also help parents to determine what might be triggering their child's asthma. Peak flow meters can also be used during an asthma episode. These meters can help determine the severity of the episode, decide when to use rescue medication, and decide when to seek emergency care. They are small devices that are easy to put in a pocket or purse if needed. Translucent plastic is widely used because it allows the user to quickly make a clear reading and is durable.
Peak Flow Meter Design and Function
Peak flow meters are available in a variety of sizes and shapes; however, all peak flow meters work in a similar way. A mouthpiece is attached to a plastic tube with a scale and slider or pointer mechanism at the opposite end. They are read similarly to flow indicators. A user inhales deeply and expels as much air from his or her lungs as possible into the flow meter. These devices are self-powered, unlike electromagnetic flowmeters. The force is the peak expiratory flow (PEF) and is frequently measured in liters per minute. The pointer moves in accordance with the volume of air exhaled and the reading is recorded.
Peak flow meter rates may be tracked and charted during the course of a day to help monitor asthma. A "normal" peak flow meter rate is based on a person's age, height, sex, and race. A standardized "normal" may be obtained from a chart comparing the patient with a population without breathing problems. Each patient has his or her own "normal" peak flow meter rate. Three zones of measurement are commonly used to interpret peak flow meter rates based on level of danger. These three zones are typically classified as green, yellow, and red, similar to the meaning of traffic lights. Peak flow meters come in two ranges of measurement: low and standard. Low range peak flow meters are for small children, and a standard range meter is for older children, teenagers, and adults.