If you go to see your doctor because you are having trouble breathing, they might recommend that you take a spirometry test. This test is fast and painless, and it can give your doctor important information about how well your lungs are working. Read on to find out what you can expect from a spirometry test and how it can benefit you.
What is spirometry?
Spirometry is a medical test commonly used to assess lung function. It helps measure three important aspects of breathing: the amount of air one can inhale, the amount of air one can exhale, and the speed at which air is exhaled.
What does the spirometer measure?
A spirometer can determine several measurements related to breath:
- Forced Vital Capacity (FVC): This measurement quantifies the total volume of air expelled during a long exhalation.
- Forced Expiratory Volume in One Second (FEV1): This measurement calculates exhaled air volume within the first second of enforced expiration or exhalation.
- FEV1/FVC Ratio: This value, expressed in percentage or fraction, represents the proportion of air expelled in the first second compared to the total volume of air expelled. Typically, a higher FEV1/FVC ratio indicates better lung function, but normal values vary depending on age.
- Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF): This measurement assesses the maximal speed at which air is exhaled. It may be obtained using a spirometer or a peak flow
When might spirometry be necessary?
Spirometry may be required in situations where you exhibit symptoms related to lung or airway conditions. These symptoms might comprise chest tightness, pain or pressure, coughing, particularly accompanied by mucus, struggling to inhale deeply, experiencing shortness of breath, or having bouts of wheezing. In such cases, your healthcare provider may recommend undergoing spirometry.
Why is spirometry performed?
Spirometry is done to assess the functioning of your lungs and to diagnose lung and airway diseases such as asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary fibrosis.
Additionally, spirometry can measure lung capacity, track changes in lung function over time due to chronic lung diseases, detect airway narrowing, guide treatment decisions, determine the potential effectiveness of inhaled medications, indicate if exposure to certain substances has impacted lung function, and estimate the risk of respiratory complications prior to surgery.
What steps should I take to get ready for a spirometry test?
To properly prepare for a spirometry test, follow these instructions from your healthcare provider:
- Temporarily stop using any breathing medications
- Choose loose and comfortable clothing that doesn’t restrict your chest
- Refrain from eating a large meal for at least two hours before the test
- Avoid engaging in intense physical activity within 30 minutes prior to the test
Following these guidelines will help ensure that your spirometry results are as precise as possible.
How is a spirometry test administered?
During a spirometry test conducted at the doctor’s office, a spirometry machine or spirometer is used, connected to a tube through which you will breathe.
To perform the test, the doctor instructs you to take a deep breath and then expel the air forcefully and rapidly. You may repeat this process multiple times to ensure accurate results. In certain cases, you may be given medication between test rounds to observe its impact on your results.
Typically, a spirometry test lasts only 10-15 minutes and does not require significant exertion. However, you may experience slight lightheadedness afterward due to the inhalation and exhalation involved.
What can I anticipate after undergoing spirometry?
Following the test, you can resume any medications that were temporarily halted by your healthcare provider. Your normal activities, including exercise, can also be resumed.
Your healthcare provider will inform you of when you can expect to receive the results of your spirometry test.
In addition to spirometry, your provider may perform lung volume and diffusion capacity testing in certain cases. These tests assess your lung volume capacity and the efficiency of oxygen transfer to your bloodstream. They complement spirometry by aiding in the diagnosis of specific lung or breathing conditions. Your provider may regularly administer these tests to monitor the progress of your breathing.
What are the advantages of undergoing a spirometry examination?
Here are several advantages to consider when taking a spirometry test:
- Detecting any alterations in your lung function
- Creating a personalized strategy in collaboration with your physician
- Avoiding triggers and exacerbations by gaining crucial information
- Gaining a sense of empowerment in managing your respiratory condition
How can spirometry test results be beneficial to my healthcare provider?
Assisting my healthcare provider, spirometry test results aid in:
- Identifying whether my symptoms are caused by asthma or another ailment
- Detecting any obstructions or constrictions in my airways
- Assessing the efficacy of my treatment
- Identifying if my lung volume is below average, potentially prompting further evaluation
- Determining the stability or progression of any pulmonary diseases
- Evaluating the severity of my condition
If you have difficulty breathing, a spirometry test can identify the underlying cause of your symptoms. At Apurva Advanced Medical Care, we provide spirometry testing as part of our in-office services for our patients. For more information or to book a test, please contact Apurva Advanced Medical Care and make an appointment today.