How do I measure my breathing?
What should I do if I have breathing problems that are better on days away from work?
The most important first step in finding out if you have occupational asthma is to make frequent breathing measurements at and away from work. For this you will need the following.
- A peak flow meter (details later)
- Some forms to write the answers on (downloadable from "Workers" section)
- Instructions about measurement (details below and in "Workers" section)
- Somebody to analyse the results (details later)
How often do I need to blow and for how long?
You should blow approximately 2 hourly from waking to sleeping for at least 3 weeks.
You should choose a time when you are having days at and away from work. The best results are when there are at least 3 periods at work and 3 periods away from work during the record and the periods at work are at least 3 days long.
The first reading should be as soon as you wake up.
If you are working day shifts or morning shifts, the best times for further readings are on arriving at work, each break at work, on leaving work, mid evening and bedtime.
The waking and arriving at work may be quite close together for some people. The actual reading needs to be written against the nearest hour on the form.
On days away from work, try and make readings at the same time as days at work.
Write on the form when you wake up and when you go to sleep, when you start work and when you stop work. If you do anything unusual at work, write this on the form.
What do I do about treatment?
Keep your treatment the same throughout the record. The record is trying to find out whether your work is affecting your breathing rather than whether the treatment is working. If you take a reliever inhaler (often blue), make the readings immediately before taking the inhaler. Keep any preventer treatment constant throughout.
When records are unclear, repeating them before, during and after a 1 - 2 week holiday often helps.
What do I do when I have missed readings?
Leave blanks on the form. With practice, most people can manage readings on 8 out of 10 occasions that they are supposed to do it. Making up readings only confuses the results.
Use the same meter for all your readings as some meters read differently from others.
In order to measure your breathing you will need to obtain a peak flow meter (see link below).
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