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Asthma

Asthma as you get older

03/16/2009

Question:

I am 55 and was first diagnosed with asthma more than 40 years ago. When I was younger my personal best on my peak flow meter was over 400. Now even on my best days when I am not wheezing at all I can never get more than 350. Is it normal for your best peak flow to go down as you get older?

Answer:

There is a slow natural decline in lung function as you age.  The process begins in mid-life around 30-40 years of age.  Therefore, it is a good idea to re-calculate your peak flow every year or two and update your action plan with the new numbers.  It is also important to remember the peak flow meters vary significantly between brands and even among the same brand.  When you receive a new peak flow meter re-calculate your personal best peak flow by taking your peak flow twice a day for about 2 weeks (when you are feeling well and your asthma is controlled).  The highest number over the 2 week period is considered your personal best.  Good asthma control is 80% of your personal best or higher (personal best X .80= peak flow range of good asthma control). 

The most accurate assessment of lung function is with a spirometry machine in the doctors office or the pulmonary function lab because these machines are calibrated daily and base results on your age, height and sex. 

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Response by:

Cathy   Benninger, RN, MS, APRN, C-AE Cathy Benninger, RN, MS, APRN, C-AE
Clinical Assistant Professor
Director, OSU Asthma Center Educational Program
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University