On Friday of last week I had the opportunity to go with my boss from the Asthma program, Desire La Tempa, to conduct peak flow meter screenings at a geriatric outreach event on Long Island.
A peak flow meter measures the amount of air the large airways in your lungs can expel and by doing so also measures the amount of air those large airways can intake. A good and average number for a peak flow screening depends on one’s weight and age. For instance, I am a relatively petite person and am 21, I can blow a peak flow reading of 450. That’s pretty exceptional and I probably owe that to the large amount of time I spend playing sports, specifically with Haverford field hockey. Lower numbers in the 100 to 200 range are not so good. But, someone who knows they have asthma also generally knows what their best score is and by knowing this can also tell when they are at risk for an attack. When the number drops below your personal best and continues to drop, or remain at that spot, that is a pretty good indication that a patient is at risk for an attack.
The event took place at Sunken Meadow Park. We set up a table and conducted the screenings for senior citizens over the course of the day. It was really nice to work with other hospital members at this health fair. I really enjoyed interacting with the seniors and providing them with the screening and information on asthma.
If a senior citizen knew that they had asthma I helped to reinforce concepts regarding their care and management of the chronic condition. We explained the importance of carrying an inhaler around wherever you go and taking the necessary medications required every day for their asthma.
We also provided those senior citizens with spacers if they used a pump inhaler. A spacer helps to trap a large portion of the medication from the pump. It also allows the patient to take normal breaths to inhale the medication. If the pump is used normally, a large portion of the medication can be lost in the air and the treatment will not be as successful. Spacers help to improve the quality of care a patient administers to themself.