My old yellow is my new green

Just a year ago I was routinely hitting 370- 380 on the peak flow meter, representing the upper end of my green zone. Well, looks like those days are over.

Though Ive been breathing pretty decent lately with no major flares, on a good day Ive only been hitting 310-320, maybe 330 on a stellar day. In fact, I haven’t been able to top 330 in over 8 months now, which is a little discouraging.

I’m not sure if this drop in my maximum peak flows numbers( personal best ) represents an overall decline in my lung function, or if it’s just that my larger airways are getting stiffer. But , in order for my peak flow numbers to have continued relevancy, I had to recalibrate my breathing zones. ( If not, Id be in the yellow zone ALL the time) My personal best is now 330 instead of 380.

Here are my new re-calculated breathing zones:

Green Zone 300 or greater

Yellow Zone 299-210

Red Zone 209 or less

Rick over at the Respiratory Cave wrote an excellent post about peak flows. As he points out, one should never rely solely on their peak flow reading to assess their breathing status. The only reason I do peak flow measurements at all , is because I sometimes have a blunted perception of my own dyspnea and can’t always tell when I’m getting tight. The peak flow meter gives me a visual clue and provides me with an actual measurement of my lung function.

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4 Comments

  1. kerri says:

    Here's hoping for more green-zone days coming your way, even if you did have to recalibrate the zones. Glad your lungs are in the St. Patrick's day celebrating colour! :)

  2. GayleMyrna says:

    Hi Stephen. For many years my peak flows were 250 (though, on lots and lots of prednisone I might hit 300). The last several years they now run about 200….if I'm on lots of pred than maybe 220 or so. And of course, they can bounce around a lot. I think for my "statuesque" height of 5 feet they are supposed to be quite a bit higher. I can start having symptoms with my peak flows staying the same. Eventually, they decline if I'm going into a flare-up. I take them twice daily …or more if I suspect something is up. Anyhow, glad you're in the "green".
    GayleMyrna

  3. My peak flow stays in the yellow most of the time. I am fortunate that I can tell when I am getting chest tightness, because I do not always rely on my peak flow meter to tell me whats going on. Maybe I should use it more, but most of the time I only use it when I feel the chest tightness. It helps me gauge if the tightness is something I need to have checked out immediately at the local ER or if I can spare the extra time to go to my pulmonologist. He is about an hour away, two hours if he is in his other office.

    This last asthma hospitalization left me with with some permanent damage. I was told that there is a rasping sound when I breathe now that was not there before.

    Do you do the calibration yourself? Is it difficult of figure it out.?

    I have never done my own calibration. When it needs to be done, I will take my peak flow meter with me to the doctor and have him do it.

    • Stephen says:

      Hopefully that raspy sound you’re experiencing will go away in a few weeks(happens to me all the time). By calibration I simply meant that I had to adjust my personal best downward. I just took off 30 points.

  4. karan says:

    hey stephen
    im new here, just read ur blog… ur asthma sounds frighteningly like mine… i live in my yellow zone even while on pred. no one knows quite what to do with me and my asthma… i had to re calculate my numbers too… a yr ago i was blowing around 400 pretty consistantly now my best is 340 but i rarely go above 260… what does that mean? no one seems to b too concerned but me… 4 yrs later my asthmas still way too scarry !!!

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