Approximately 7% of people worldwide grapple with chronic respiratory illnesses. The big players here are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma, holding the top spots for prevalence. Way back in the late 1960s, researchers started diving into the itty-bitty airways in our lungs, curious about their role in the early stages of obstructive lung diseases. These small airways, less than 2 millimeters in diameter, have been tagged as a kind of silent zone. It’s where issues can camp out, incognito, for years without raising much ruckus. Surveys and studies have pointed out that these teeny airways throw some serious hurdles in the path of airflow in both COPD and asthma.

    These airways tend to get all riled up, inflamed, start overproducing mucus, and undergo some remodeling – a bit of a construction project, if you will. This obstruction in the small airways (let’s call it SAO for short) has even been spotted moonwalking in before the flashy emphysematous changes and the nosedive in the usual spirometric measurements in COPD. Since there isn’t a super-easy, non-invasive way to check SAO, folks rely a bunch on spirometry. It’s popular because it’s relatively easy to do and doesn’t require fancy, complicated gadgets.

    Pulmonary function tests are a regular part of managing lung diseases. Various types exist, the most common being spirometry. When “spirometry” comes up, most folks think of the diagnostic type, measuring key parameters: Forced Expiratory Volume in 1st second (FEV1), Forced Vital Capacity (FVC), their ratio (FEV1/FVC), percent predicted FEV1 (ppFEV1), percent predicted FVC (ppFVC), among others. Diagnostic spirometry aids in diagnosing and managing conditions like asthma and COPD. But there’s also incentive spirometry, with a different purpose, not for diagnosing lung diseases but serving a distinct role.

    These tests, while standard, vary in their specifics and applications. The diagnostic one tackles identification and ongoing management, while incentive spirometry veers toward a different direction, focusing on a diverse set of objectives. Both contribute uniquely to understanding and addressing issues related to lung health, albeit in different capacities, showcasing the versatility and breadth of pulmonary function tests in clinical settings.

    Incentive spirometry

    Incentive spirometry, often mistaken for a mere lung function management tool, actually plays a significant role in pulmonary rehabilitation. Rather than being a clinical evaluation aid, its primary purpose lies in exercising the lungs. Its wide usage spans physical, speech, and pulmonary therapy, relying on visual cues to prompt patients to take slow, deep breaths.

    For maximum benefits, incentive spirometry hinges on the patient’s ability to inhale slowly, akin to the stretch experienced during a yawn or sigh, facilitating lung and airway expansion. Despite sharing the basic pulmonary mechanisms of inspiratory and expiratory breathing with diagnostic spirometry, its execution differs significantly. The emphasis here is on encouraging profound, deliberate breaths, with the device offering feedback based on a preset inspiratory flow.

    This form of pulmonary rehabilitation effectively aids breathing, exercises the lungs, potentially assisting in mucus clearance, and promotes lung expansion. It’s a method geared toward bolstering respiratory health through intentional, controlled breathing exercises.

    Diagnostic spirometry

    Diagnostic spirometry is like the Sherlock Holmes of lung health checks. This fancy name hides a crucial method doctors use to spot and track lung issues. When it comes to figuring out how well your lungs are doing, diagnostic spirometry is the gold standard. Picture this: a high-tech gadget, something like ndd’s EasyOne Air and Easy on-PC spirometers, swooping in to measure the airflow as someone breathes in and out during the test. This test isn’t just a one-size-fits-all deal; it’s got a whole bunch of measurements up its sleeve. One of them, FEV1, can be a game-changer, helping to tell the difference between different types of lung problems.

    You know those big shots in the asthma and COPD world? It’s nothing but the Global Initiative for Asthma as well as the Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease. Well, they’re singing praises for diagnostic spirometry. They say it’s not just for confirming these conditions, but it’s also a must-have for managing them. But get this—despite its superhero status in the lung world, not enough people are getting in on this spirometry action. That’s one reason why asthma and COPD aren’t getting diagnosed enough worldwide. It’s like having a superhero but forgetting to call them when trouble hits.

    Now, here’s the scoop: spirometry is not just about asthma and COPD. It has got multiple benefits. It can help figure out what’s making someone feel short of breath, screen those who might be at risk for lung issues, or even check if someone’s good to go for a big workout. It’s like a Swiss Army knife of health checks! And hey, it’s not just about diagnosing; it’s also about keeping an eye on things. Think about checking if a treatment’s doing its job or watching out for folks who might be dealing with harmful stuff at work. It’s like a health ninja, always looking out for trouble.

    But wait, there’s more! Diagnostic spirometry is not just about individuals; it’s got its eyes on the big picture too. It’s out there, helping with surveys and research, trying to figure out how to keep everyone’s lungs in top shape. It’s a real team player in the world of health.


    Spirometry, a test for how well you breathe, checks how much air you can blow out and how strong that blow is after a deep breath in. Incentive spirometry focuses on getting you to take deliberate deep breaths but doesn’t help track or handle ongoing lung issues. Diagnostic spirometry, though, is the real deal for precise lung function checks. It’s the go-to for diagnosing lung diseases and ends up being super important for managing them once they’re spotted. So, while one helps with intentional breathing, the other is the heavy lifter in spotting and handling lung troubles. 

    Would you like to know more about these types of spirometry? Consult your doctor for guidance. For further clarification, reach out to our specialists at Apurva Advanced Medical Care in Prescott, Arizona, US. They can provide expert advice on this matter.