Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can peak flow meters tell me if there's something wrong with my lungs?"
Recently I've had trouble breathing. I am a 41 year old smoker. Could it be cancer?
If you are having trouble breathing, you need to go see your primary care doctor as soon as possible. Peak flow meters are especially useful hand held devices that are used to see how people with asthma are doing. They can be kept at home and the patient with asthma can use the device themselves. However, if you do not have a diagnosis of asthma, the peak flow meter will be less useful. I am concerned that you are a smoker, because this makes a lot of other potential problems surface. One of these is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, emphysema) which is caused from chronic damage to the lungs by smoking. Smokers are also at higher risk of suffering from sinus problems, bronchitis, and pneumonia, all of which could cause trouble breathing. Finally cancer of the lung could cause cough and trouble breathing. Therefore, it is very important for you to be examined by your primary care doctor to help you determine if there is something serious going on and, if so, what tests and treatments need to be done. When you go to this visit, you should also talk to your doctor about help quitting smoking, which is very important.
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