Children's Hospital Colorado

Using a Peak Flow Meter

A boy with brown hair breathes out while his doctor watches in the background. Best Children's Hospital by US News Pulmonology 2020-1 Badge

The pediatric asthma experts at Children’s Hospital Colorado may recommend using a peak flow meter to help you take care of your child’s asthma.

Does my child need a peak flow meter?

Children with asthma need ongoing treatment to control their symptoms and prevent other medical problems from developing. Effectively managing asthma helps your child avoid visiting the emergency department or urgent care, stay in school and just enjoy being a kid.

Every case of asthma is unique. Our pediatric asthma experts meet with you to assess your child’s unique triggers and symptoms, make a diagnosis and discuss treatments. A peak flow meter is one of several treatment options that we may suggest for your child.

How does a peak flow meter work?

A peak flow meter is a tool to measure how well your child’s lungs are working. A healthy peak flow range is different for each child, depending on age, gender and height. Your asthma specialist will help you figure out your child’s ideal or “personal best” peak flow value.

Checking peak flows regularly can help you and your child keep their asthma well controlled. We may recommend using a peak flow meter as part of your child’s asthma action plan. The plan uses three color-coded zones: green, yellow and red. A peak flow measurement shows you which zone your child is in.

  • Green: Peak flow is >80% of personal best. Your child’s asthma is well controlled.
  • Yellow: Peak flow is 50-80% of personal best. Your child is having asthma symptoms and may need quick-relief medicine.
  • Red: Peak flow is <50% of personal best. Your child is having severe asthma symptoms. They may have trouble breathing, talking and walking, or you may see their ribs. If your child is in the red zone, call their doctor or 911 right away.

How to use a peak flow meter

It’s important for you and your child to learn how to use the peak flow meter correctly. The device is easy to use, but it takes a bit of practice.

The asthma specialists at Children’s Colorado will show your child how to use it.

Watch the video or download instructions on how to use a peak flow meter (.pdf).

About the Asthma Program at Children’s Colorado

Your family doesn’t have to navigate asthma alone. Turn to the Asthma Program at Children’s Colorado for asthma diagnosis, education and treatment, all tailored to your child’s needs.

Our pediatric asthma experts are part of Children’s Colorado’s Breathing Institute, the nation’s largest program focusing on children’s lung health. The asthma program at Children’s Colorado is accredited by the American Association for Respiratory Care’s Asthma Self-Management Education Program.

Contact the Asthma Program at Children’s Colorado

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 720-777-6181 or schedule an appointment online.

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