In much the same way that you would keep a diary of your asthma symptoms, I came up with the concept of posting my daily breathing parameters as a way of letting others out there know, (i.e. my doctors, family and fellow asthmatics), on how my lungs are doing on any particular day. I often forget though, that while most chronic lungers know what this stuff means, a lot of people who visit my blog probably don’t. So, if anyone is interested, here’s a little explanation of what all that junk means…. I hope it’s not too confusing.
There are 4 major components to my daily breathing stats: a Peak flow measurement , an FEV1 measurement a Breathing Update ( which is basically a subjective description of how I’m breathing on that particular day, and lastly, a section labeled Todays Fitness Activity where I jot down what, if any, exercise I did for that day. (Ive used the above links for general definitions of what Peak Flows and FEV1 measurements are )
Peak Flows : I do my peak flow measurements several times throughout the day on a digital peak flow meter, which also measures the FEV1. Those readings are then stored on a chip and uploaded to a database which can then be used to plot out trends and other useful info. I designed the peak flow meter graphic on my blog to correspond with my actual Green-Yellow-Red breathing zones , the same you would see on a real peak flow meter.
FEV1 : As far as pulmonary function terms go, FEV1 ( which stand for Forced Expiratory Volume in 1 second) is one of the most useful measurements in quantifying the severity of airway obstruction in a person with COPD or asthma. It’s usually expressed as a percent of normal, but can also be expressed as an actual volume. In the example shown in the graphic above, my FEV1 was 35% of predicted ( based on my height weight ,age etc ). The actual exhaled volume measured to come up with this percentage was 1.05 liters. This means, that blowing out as fast as I could, I was only able to exhale 1 liter of air from my lungs in the first one second, or appx 35% of what I should have been able to do if I was healthy. Since my FEV1 hovers in the 30-40% range, my disease severity is considered to be in the severe to very severe category.
Breathing update: Because I am a real person and not a machine, the way I “feel”, doesn’t always jive with what the numbers say I should feel like. Everybody perceives breathing discomfort differently. What I might perceive as mild respiratory distress, you might perceive as major distress, and visa versa. For that reason, Ive included a subjective description of my symptoms… or lack of.
Todays Fitness Activity: Finally, because this is after all… a fitness/asthma blog, I wanted to place to record my physical fitness activity. This is where I usually input what kind of exercise I did ( or did not do ) on a particular day. As far as my fitness and /or racewalking goes, all the miles I walk are represented by the little odometers you see just below the header of the blog. These are not estimates, they are the actual number of miles Ive walked and are taken from my Garmin Forerunner GPS.
UPDATE: Sometime in 2010 I removed my breathing stats widget from my blog. It got too monotonous updating it everyday. More than anything, I just wanted to show others that they’re are several parameters used in quantifying ones breathing status, not just peak flows measurements.