Pulmonary function tests are designed to tell you and your doctor how your lungs are working. However, some patients may not know much about these tests, how they’re done or what they’re supposed to measure. To help you gain a better understanding of pulmonary function tests, Lung Health Institute offers some information about the 3 most common of these tests.
There are 3 types of pulmonary function tests that are typically used to diagnose and track the progression of COPD, and each of these tests is designed to tell you different things about your lung function.
The most commonly used pulmonary function test is spirometry. This test is intended to measure how much air you can exhale after filling your lungs full, and in medical terms, this is known as forced expiratory volume (FEV). In most cases, there are several basic steps to this test.
First, your doctor will ask you to sit in a chair or on a table, and then they will give you a hand-held device called a spirometer. A soft clip will be placed on your nose so that you’re only able to breathe in and out through the mouth. Next, the doctor will instruct you to take as deep a breath as possible and exhale as hard as you can into the spirometer. The test will usually be repeated 3 times over the course of a few minutes.
Another commonly used pulmonary function test is body plethysmography, and this test is used to find out lung volume information that spirometry can’t provide. For example, plethysmography can help the doctor learn how much air a patient’s lungs contain when they inhale as much as possible. Medical professionals call this statistic total lung capacity. The test is also designed to measure the volume of air remaining in your lungs after you breathe out normally, or functional residual capacity, and how much air remains in the lungs after breathing out forcefully, or residual volume.
The steps used in body plethysmography are slightly more complicated than those used for a spirometry test. To begin, the patient is seated inside a phone-booth-like box, and they will be asked to place a soft nose clip on their nose. Then, you’ll be instructed on how to breathe through the mouthpiece by the doctor or monitoring technician. After you expel a certain amount of air into the mouthpiece, a movable shutter will drop inside it, and the patient will breathe against the shutter. This will feel like panting to most people. In all, this test typically takes about 15 minutes to complete.
One of the primary jobs of your lungs is to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide, which is a process called diffusion. For COPD patients, this process is typically harder for the lungs to do, and diffusing capacity of the lungs (DCL) is a pulmonary function test intended to measure how well your lungs are performing diffusion.
To perform a DCL test, a breathing mask will be placed over your nose and mouth. You’ll be instructed to breathe in, hold your breath for about 10 seconds and then exhale. This test is done using a mixture of oxygen, carbon monoxide and helium. The mixture allows the doctor to measure the amount of carbon monoxide and helium that was diffused by your lungs, and this gives them a good idea of how well the diffusion process is working in your lungs.
At Lung Health Institute, we’re committed to helping patients with COPD and other chronic lung diseases Breathe Easier™. To help us honor this commitment, we offer natural and minimally invasive cellular therapy.
When patients receive cellular therapy, a small sample of the patient’s own blood is taken, and platelets, growth factors, proteins and other beneficial cells are separated and concentrated. These concentrated cells are then returned into the bloodstream. They are then naturally pumped to the lungs and can promote the repair of damaged tissue and reduce inflammation. By doing so, cellular therapy can allow patients to Breathe Easier™ and improve their quality of life.
Take the next step to Breathe Easier™. Contact a Lung Health Institute patient coordinator today for more information or to schedule a free consultation.
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