We rarely think about the process of breathing, and usually only think about our lung health when it takes a dip, or when we’re confronted with a loved one’s ill health. It’s important for us all to pay attention to our lung health, but for those of us with asthma and other respiratory issues, it’s even more important to check that everything is as it should be regularly.
Spirometry is one of the best ways to keep on top of your lung health, but what is it?
What is spirometry?
Spirometry is a common pulmonary function test, also known as a breathing test. This test measures how much air a patient can breathe in and out, and how easily and quickly they can blow air out of their lungs.
Those who experience wheezing, a cough, or shortness of breath may be recommended spirometry. Spirometry can help to diagnose asthma and COPD. It can also be done to check lung function before a patient has surgery or treatment for chronic lung disease like pulmonary fibrosis. Spirometry can help determine if a patient’s disease is improving or worsening. It can be performed in the doctor’s office or a pulmonary function testing laboratory.
How can I prepare for a spirometry test?
To prepare for a spirometry test:
- Don’t smoke for one hour before your test
- Avoid drinking alcohol within four hours of the test
- Avoid eating a large meal within two hours of the test
- Wear loose clothing to your appointment
- Avoid vigorous exercise within half an hour of your test
- If you have an inhaler, you may be asked not to take it for several hours before spirometry. Ask your doctor if this applies to you before the test, and continue to carry it with you in case you need it.
What can I expect from a spirometry test?
As for what to expect, spirometry is a simple and painless test that typically takes less than 10 minutes. You’ll be asked to breathe through a mouthpiece while wearing a nose clip. You’ll inhale as deeply as you can before exhaling as quickly as possible until your lungs are empty. You will typically be asked to do this at least three times to ensure that the test results are accurate.
How can I maintain good lung health? 6 Top Tips
- Give up, or avoid, smoking – we now know just how harmful smoking can be, but the good news is your lungs start healing the moment you stub out the cigarette. If you vape instead of smoking, also try to cut back. While vaping is considered safer than smoking, anything you’re breathing in regularly may be harmful to your health.
- Attend your annual health check-up – this is wise for your overall health, but your doctor will also listen to your breathing.
- Minimize exposure to indoor and outdoor pollutants that could damage your lungs. This could mean avoiding second-hand smoke and chemicals in your home or workplace where possible, or wearing a mask when doing particularly dusty or smoky activities.
- Make sure you open your windows from time to time, and/or change your air conditioning air filters regularly.
- Practice breathing exercises, go for a brisk walk or run, or do yoga to develop cardiovascular fitness.
- Eat fruit and vegetables – they contain essential nutrients and antioxidants that help keep your lungs healthy.
Worried about your lung health?
If you’re in the Prescott, Arizona area and you’re concerned about your lung health, a spirometry test will look for signs of problems and give you the best course of action to improve your lung health. We’ll take the time to address your concerns and make sure you’re on the track to great health. Click here to contact us today.