About my “Latest Breathing Stats” sidebar

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 )

breathing stats graphic

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.

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2 Comments

  1. Kerri says:

    “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.”

    I cheer internally each time you make this point. YES! Susannah and I were tweeting about this today, as well, and it’s SO TRUE. Since starting Symbicort, my PF rarely drops into the yellow. However, most of my dyspnea has occurred AFTER starting the Symbicort! Go figure that one out.

    (Actually, when tweeting with Sus, I stole the “jive” wording you often use in relation to this phenomenon!)

  2. Sus says:

    Hi Steve!

    Good Job-it’s kinda confusing even for us hardcore lungers!

    I can never fathom the PF-FEV1 relationship. Throw away those text books!

    My pre neb PF of 201 got a 0.97 FEV1 and then after a neb, my PF was 241 and I got a 0.85 FEV1. All I can say is the neb got me coughing up a lot and I’m clearer but also tighter so prob neeb to do another neb!

    Too much info just makes me remember the illness I try so hard to forget-aargh!!!

    ((Hi Kerri-glad the Symbicort is helping in it’s own sweet way, LOL))

    Jive on asthma peeps

    Sus xx

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Most frequently asked question

"Can you have an asthma attack with a normal sat reading"?
The answer is..YES!
While it's a little unusual to see a person with a perfect O2 sat of a 100% during a severe exacerbation, its pretty typical to see sats in the 94-97% range. The reason for this, is that asthma is a disease of the airways , not the alveoli where gas exchange takes place. Most asthmatics dont desaturate during the early stages of an attack,unless theres a secondary problem such as pneumonia. You have to be extremely ill with asthma if your sats are low.

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