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Using an Asthma Inhaler
Using an Asthma Inhaler


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Online learning resources for diabetes, asthma, hypertension, and nutrition.
Diabetes 101: Learn more about diabetes, managing your blood sugar levels, and your diet.
Diabetes 201: Learn more about diabetes, managing your blood sugars, and your diet.
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Asthma

Lesson 4: Daily Care for Your Asthma





Your personal best!

What is your personal best? Don't worry, we're not talking about how quickly you can run a 50-yard dash. In asthma terms, your personal best refers to the highest measurement you can get in the middle of the day, during a reduced-symptom period, after using your inhaled bronchodilator over 2 to 3 weeks. By comparing your daily peak flow readings with your personal best reading you are more able to gauge the severity of your asthma symptoms.

So, why do some people have a naturally higher peak flow reading? The "normal" range for your peak flow depends on your height, age and gender. So, a 35-year-old 5'3" woman who gets a reading of 350 is within normal predicted range for her age, gender, and height, however that it reading for a 6'3" 25-year-old man is out of the predicted range of normal lung function. For kids, peak flow goals should not decrease over time, but should be moved up on a yearly because they are growing!

If you want a more precise measurement of your personal best, your allergist can help you by giving you a treatment to normalize your lung function, and then measuring your lung function using a highly sensitive in-office measurement machine called a spirometer. You can compare the results of the spirometer with your your own peak flow meter to take note of discrepancies or to set your lung function goals.

Air traffic!

Once you know your personal best peak flow reading, make it your goal to maintain values within 80% of this number. The following "traffic light" system is a good reference:

Green zone – Go! You're safe! Peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) means you are within 80-100% of your personal best! You should be relatively symptom-free and can maintain your asthma management program well. If you are on continuous medication and your peak flow is constantly in the green zone, your doctor may gradually decrease your daily medication.

Yellow zone – Caution! PEFR 50-80% of personal best. Your lung function is decreasing. You doctor will likely recommend a temporary increase in medication to return your lung function to a safer range.

Red zone – Danger! PEFR below 50% of personal best. Your asthma management and treatment program isn't working well. Use your inhaled bronchodilator as soon as possible. After the treatment, if your peak flow readings do not return to at least the yellow zone, contact your doctor immediately. You will likely be brought in for more intensive treatment and your maintenance therapy will likely be increased.

The traffic light system is a set of broad guidelines meant to simplify your asthma management. If you ever have questions about your peak flow reading, or if you don't feel well regardless of your peak flow reading, never hesitate to call your doctor.




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