By Apollo 24/7, Published on - 11 June 2021
Spirometry is a standard pulmonary function test that is performed to evaluate how well the lungs are working, by calculating their breathing capacity. It works by measuring the volume and speed of air inhaled and exhaled by the lungs.
Spirometry is performed to diagnose chronic lungs conditions such as:
For people diagnosed with chronic lung conditions, spirometry may be conducted periodically to evaluate the condition of the lungs and determine the effectiveness of treatment and medication in improving breathing problems. The test may also be performed before a planned operation to decide whether the lung function of a person is adequate enough to withstand the rigours of surgery.
A doctor will give a few instructions to help an individual prepare for the test. Some of those instructions will be:
People who are on breathing medications such as bronchodilators may be given specific instructions about their use prior to the test. In some cases, a doctor will ask a person to stop the use of bronchodilators in order to test their effect on breathing.
A spirometry test is generally performed by a doctor or nurse at a clinic. The following procedure can be expected during the test:
Nevertheless, if a person exhibits signs of a breathing disorder, then the doctor will administer a bronchodilator to open up the lungs after the initial round of tests. They will be asked to wait for 15 minutes before doing another set of the test. Later, the results of the two measurements will be compared to determine the bronchodilator’s effect on the airflow.
Doctors use the following key measurements to interpret the spirometry test results.
It is important to note that the results of spirometry testing may vary from person to person. A number of factors, including age, gender, height, ethnicity, etc. influence the average spirometry test results.
Side effects and risk
Spirometry is generally considered a safe pulmonary function test. However, a few complications may occur during or after the test. After performing the test, a person may experience dizziness or shortness of breath. In very rare cases, the test may cause severe breathing problems.
Since the test requires some form of exertion, it is not recommended to people with chronic heart ailments or those who have recently had a heart attack.
A physician may recommend the use of an incentive spirometer at home (also called respirometer) to people who have recently had surgery, people with chronic lung disease, or those with respiratory problems that fill their lungs with fluid.
An incentive spirometer is an equipment that is used to improve lung function after surgery or a respiratory illness. The device supports lungs recovery by helping a person breathe more deeply and fully. The use of an incentive spirometer can also help prevent complications such as pneumonia by keeping the lungs free of fluids.
The general procedure of using an incentive spirometer is as follows:
Spirometry is a simple and useful pulmonary function test that is used to assess how well the lungs are working. It is usually performed to diagnose respiratory conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, pulmonary fibrosis, etc. If the spirometry test yields abnormal results, a physician may likely perform a few other tests, including chest and sinus X-rays and blood tests, to figure out whether or not the breathing problems are caused by such respiratory conditions. The physician may also recommend the use of an incentive spirometer or respirometer to improve lung function.
For any queries or concerns related to respiratory health, speak with a pulmonologist.
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