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Problems With Using Peak Flow Meters

The peak flow meter provides valuable information about the functional state of the lungs in diseases that cause obstruction to the lungs like bronchial asthma and COPD. The reading of this device will determine the PEFR, among other indices, and this will influence critical clinical decisions. That is why it is important to make sure the measurement is done correctly.

Common mistakes resulting in incorrect readings:

  1. If the device is not held correctly, the dial that shows the reading might be moved from the zero position, which might give a false high reading. Always make sure the dial is at the zero position at the beginning of the measuring process.
  2. Holding the device incorrectly might also result in the air outlets being inadvertently blocked, this will cause a difficulty in blowing through the device and the resulting reading will be falsely low.
  3. Before putting the mouthpiece in the mouth, make sure there are not any foreign bodies that might either block the device or enter the patient’s mouth.
    Make sure the mouthpiece is clean before using the device.
  4. The patient should take a deep breath and hold it in, then breathe out as strongly as possible. The patient should never take the deep breath through the peak flow meter, i.e.the patient should breathe in, then apply the device to the mouth.
  5. The patient’s lips should be tightly sealed around the mouthpiece, if the exhaled air leaks from around the mouthpiece, the resulting measured PEFR will be falsely low.
  6. Never make decisions based on a single reading.Rather, the average of 3 readings should be calculated and used.


Submitted on January 16, 2014