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Asthma

Gathering Accurate Peak Flow Readings

10/17/2007

Question:

How are you suppose to get a peak flow reading when you can`t blow into the thing without coughing?

Answer:

Coughing is not uncommon especially if you have phlegm in your airways or your asthma is flared.  Before checking your peak flow reading, take full breath in and blow out through pursed lips - like you are blowing out through a straw.  After 3 or 4 breaths try to cough and clear any phlegm.  Now try to perform your peak flow.  Remember to "huff" your air out, all at once when you exhale into the peak flow meter.  Perform 2 more readings and record the best of the 3.  It is best to take your peak flow readings first thing in the morning; however, if you continue to cough and are unable to obtain accurate readings, check your peak flow about 1 hour after your morning asthma medicines.  The asthma medicines may help calm down your airways so you will not cough during the test. 

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Response by:

Cathy   Benninger, RN, MS, APRN, C-AE Cathy Benninger, RN, MS, APRN, C-AE
Clinical Assistant Professor
Director, OSU Asthma Center Educational Program
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University