Peak flow test

Hello All,

My son had a peak flow meter test and his results show 79. Normal is supposed to be above 90. He used to get asthma attacks but he hasn't shown any symptoms in over a year. No wheezing or shortness of breath. Is there any damage being done to his lungs if his peak flow results are showing 79 and he's not taking any medicines? Doesn't damage occur only when he is having symptoms or asthma attacks? 




Comments 4

  • Jen

    Hi @Ben,

    Welcome to AAFA's support forums.   I can understand why you're concerned.  Would you feel comfortable asking the doctor who performed the test?

  • K8sMom2002

    Hi, Ben … I hear the concern in your voice, and it sounds as though you are debating whether or not he needs medication. 

    That's definitely a conversation to have in detail with your doctor — are you guys seeing an asthma specialist? Either a board-certified allergist or a board-certified pulmonologist with experience with pediatric asthma? 

    A few more questions so I understand better …

    How old is your son?

    Where was the test done … at home or in a doctor's office or hospital? Has he had a peak flow meter test before?

    If a kiddo doesn't know what is required, it can take some careful assistance and attention from the respiratory therapist or tech who administers the test. 

    Another question: did they try an inhaler and then re-test? If so, did the reading improve? 

    And one more question: with that low a peak flow, did they check his oxygen level?

    The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology has a , and it says this:

    A peak flow meter can help you and your allergist / immunologist, often referred to as an allergist, evaluate how severe your asthma is at any point in time. With a peak flow meter, you can often see a drop in your readings even before your symptoms (like coughing or wheezing) get worse. Decreases in peak flow may show that you need to increase your medication.

    When it comes to asthma, it wears many different faces. Neither my daughter nor I wheeze so that you could hear it without a stethoscope — unless we're in real trouble, which would mean we're probably already in an ER or a doctor's exam room. 

    Instead, our asthma is the "cough-variant" type. If, 20 years ago, you asked me if I was short of breath, I would have said, "Nope." But I would have been wrong. I would have not counted the tightness in my chest when I was exercising or running or having an upper respiratory infection. 

    And I would have never thought of coughing = shortness of breath. I would just tell people, "Hold it, I've got to stop coughing long enough to catch my breath." 

    I'd ALWAYS had that, and I thought it was what everyone experienced. It was a surprise to me to find out that, no, not everyone's lungs "hurt" when they ran or exercised.

    Could you talk over these questions with your doctor:

    • Would my son's age/inexperience with the test affect the results?
    • Can we re-do the test?
    • Can you help me put asthma symptoms in a kid-friendly, easily understood language so that he can help us answer questions about his symptoms?
    • What other things could explain this test result if it is NOT an active asthma flare?

    Hope this helps and that you get some answers! 

  • Kathy P

    Welcome @Ben That does seem like a concerning difference in numbers. Is the 90 his baseline/personal best or is that the number from the chart? Is this the first time he's done a peak flow? Are you measuring this at home or was it at the doc?

    How old is your son? Younger kids don't always get it right and the numbers can vary because of that. There are some other technique things that can make a difference too. 

    – standing – always stand when doing the test. Don't sit or lean or slouch. 

    – best of 3 – I'm supposed to do a best of three readings. If I get a good reading, I don't always bother. But if it's low, I always try again.