A peak flow meter for asthma is a handheld meter that measures how well air flows out of the lungs. Measuring your peak flow using this device is an important part of managing your asthma symptoms and preventing an asthma attack. That is because sometimes you may feel your breathing is fine, but when you measure it with a peak flow meter, you find your lung function is slightly decreased. A PFM can be used to:
• Determine the severity of your asthma
• Check your response to treatment during an acute asthma episode
• Monitor progress in treatment of chronic asthma and provide information for any changes in your therapy
• Detect worsening lung function and avoid a possible serious asthma flare-up
A peak flow meter can help you and your allergist evaluate how severe your asthma is at any point in time. With a peak flow meter, you can often see a drop in your readings even before your symptoms (like coughing or wheezing) get worse. Decreases in peak flow may show that you need to increase your medication. Another measure of asthma control is peak flow variability. For many people with asthma, symptoms are usually worse at night. By consistently monitoring nighttime peak flow measurements, you can tell how well your asthma is controlled. A decrease of 15% or greater from your usual measurement may be a sign of nighttime asthma. A person without asthma or with well-controlled asthma will consistently blow peak flows that vary less than 15%.
Also known as childhood asthma is the most common serious chronic disease in infants and children; yet is often difficult to diagnose.
In infants and children, asthma may appear as:
•Wheezing (whistling sound) when breathing
•Complaints of chest hurting
•Feeling weak or tired
Some children have symptoms only when exercising or playing a sport. This is called exercise-induced bronchoconstriction*. Childhood asthma, just like asthma in adults, can’t be cured. But with the right medications and treatment plan, symptoms can be controlled. This is extremely important in order to prevent damage to growing lungs.
Risk factors for developing pediatric asthma:
•Family history of allergies and/or asthma
•Frequent respiratory infections
•Low birth weight
•Second-hand smoke before and/or after birth
•Growing up in a low income, urban environment
Penicillin are the most prescribed group of antibiotics, and delayed rashes are frequently reported in children.
About 80% people will lose their penicillin allergy if they avoid the drug for 10 years. However, a patient with the “penicillin allergic label” consequently the optimal antibiotic treatment would be denied and more likely will be prescribed a less effective alternative, more expensive and usually associated with more side effects.
Therefore penicillin allergy testing should be performed routinely in patients with self-reported penicillin allergy. The evaluation performed by an allergist/ immunologist specialist requires an initial skin testing, followed by an oral challenge.
Allergies to pets are caused by protein found in the animal’s dander (dead skin cells), saliva or urine. For birds, many people are allergic to the excreta. The proteins from pets are carried on microscopic particles through the air. When inhaled, they trigger reactions in allergic people. As all dogs and cats possess these proteins, none of them is allergy-free. Though some breeds are considered more allergy-friendly, it is likely because they are groomed more frequently, a process that removes much of the dander. It is a common misconception that people are allergic to a dog or cat’s hair, and it is falsely believed that an animal that sheds less will not cause a reaction.
Pollen is the male fertilizing agent of flowering plants, trees, grasses and weeds. It is also a major allergen that causes symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever)*. Weather conditions affect pollen levels. For instance, wind and humidity may affect pollen counts. Because pollen are small, light and dry, they can be easily spread by wind, which keeps pollen airborne and carries it over long distances. When the air is humid, such as during or after it rains, pollen becomes damp and heavy with moisture, keeping it still and on the ground. Allergy symptoms are often minimal on days that are rainy, cloudy or windless, because pollen does not move about during these conditions. Hot, dry and windy weather signals greater pollen and mold distribution and therefore, increased allergy symptoms.
Pollen from plants with bright flowers, such as roses, usually does not trigger allergies. These large, waxy pollen are carried from plant to plant by bees and other insects. On the other hand, many trees, grasses and low-growing weeds have small, light, dry pollen that are well-suited for dissemination by wind currents. These are the pollens that trigger allergy symptoms.
Pruritus is the medical term for “itching”. While almost everyone has experienced itchy skin, people with skin allergies such as atopic dermatitis (eczema)* are more prone to develop pruritus. Symptoms can range from being mildly irritating to disabling. The term for this very serious form is intractable pruritus.
A PFT is a special computer designed test to measure the force of air exhaled and inhaled into the lungs. There are three measurements that are especially important when measuring lung functions. The Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) measures the total amount of air, in liters, in the lungs. The Forced Expiratory Volume (FEV1) measures the amount of air expelled in the first second the air is forced out of your lungs, this is usually restricted in asthmatics. The last measurement, and perhaps the most important in detecting asthma, is the Forced Expiratory Flow (FEF 25-75). This assesses the amount of air in the small airways, or bronchioles, which are usually narrowed in asthma.