Lung Function Tests

Lung Function Tests

Lung function tests, also known as pulmonary function tests (PFTs) are tests to check how well your lungs are working. These tests measure how much air your lungs can hold, how well your lungs can move air in and out, and how well gas and oxygen is exchanged in the lungs.

Preparation for Lung Function Tests:

No special preparation is necessary for lung function tests. If it is your first time having a lung function test, then your doctor may ask you to arrive at the test in the morning to avoid the effects of your daily activities and fatigue. The test will usually take 1 to 2 hours to complete.

Procedure for Lung Function Tests:

The procedure for a lung function test typically involves:

  • The technician performing the test will explain what you need to do.
  • The technician will measure your height and weight to calculate results.
  • Then you will breathe into a mouthpiece or mouth valve connected to a machine that measures the flow of air in and out of your lungs.
  • The technician may ask you to perform simple activities such as raising your arms or holding your breath to assess how your respiratory system works.
  • The technician will then review the results of the tests and explain what they mean to you.

Types of Lung Function Tests:

Some of the common types of lung function tests include:

  • Spirometry: This test measures how much air you can inhale and exhale, your breathing rate, and lung capacity.
  • Bronchial Provocation Testing: This test measures how your airways respond to various physical or chemical irritants.
  • Residual Volume Testing: This test measures how much air is left in your lungs after exhaling completely.
  • Nitrogen Testing: This test measures how quickly nitrogen is absorbed from the airways into the blood.
  • Lung Diffusion Testing: This test measures how gas is exchanged between the air you inhale and the blood.

Why are Lung Function Tests done?

Lung function tests can help diagnose a variety of respiratory illnesses and conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis, and emphysema. They can also be used to determine how well your lungs are working and how your treatments are affecting your lung function.

When are Lung Function Tests done?

Lung function tests are typically done when your doctor thinks you may have a lung condition, such as asthma or COPD, or when they want to evaluate your lung health following a lung injury. The tests may also be done periodically to monitor your condition.

Risks of Lung Function Tests:

Lung function tests are generally safe, however they can be uncomfortable and tiring for some people. The tests involve breathing in and out forcefully and over-exerting yourself can leave you feeling short of breath or dizzy.

On rare occasions, people can experience chest tightness or discomfort during the tests. If you experience any discomfort, tell the technician so they can stop and resume when you are feeling better.