Oxygen is just about the most crucial chemical your body needs, making your lungs one of the most vital organs in your body. While your lungs are responsible for bringing oxygen into your body, though, they are also extremely sensitive, and it doesn’t take much for conditions to develop inside them. Pulmonary function testing can give you a clear insight into the health of your lungs.
Pulmonary function tests, or PFTs, are designed to test how well your lungs work. This will test their capacity, ability to oxygenate your blood, and overall health, with a range of different exercises and assessments being performed along the way. There are a lot of different tools and devices that will go into these tests, making it important that you visit a professional to have them performed.
Pulmonary function tests can be used to identify many lung conditions including but not limited to COPD, interstitial lung disease, and asthma are just a few examples of the sort of conditions that can be found with PFTs, but you can also use tests like this to assess general lung health. This can be very good for endurance athletes who want to improve their fitness.
There are two main methods that are used for PFT; Spirometry and Plethysmography. Spirometry involves a device called a spirometer that will be used while sat down. Plethysmography tests are different, placing you in an air-tight box rather than using a mouthpiece. Your doctor will perform your tests over the course of an appointment and may be able to give you an overview of the results before you leave.
You don’t need to do much to prepare for pulmonary function tests. You should avoid anything that could impact your breathing, including smoking, performing strenuous exercise, eating large meals, or wearing tight clothing, and it can help to make sure that you don’t have any other conditions that could impact your breathing. All inhalers should be stopped 1-3 days prior to your test your pulmonologist will inform you of the time length for your specific inhaler.
PFTs don’t take too long to perform, and you will usually be done with the testing within 30-45 minutes. The frequency that you should go through pulmonary function tests depends on your position, with those who have existing lung conditions benefiting from very regular visits for this sort of check-up. It can also be a good idea to go through these tests if you’ve had a cough for more than a couple of weeks.
Pulmonary function tests are designed to be non-invasive, and this means that there won’t be any downtime once your appointment is over. You may have to wait for a week or two to get the full results back from the tests. Your doctor may call you back in for further tests if they are needed.
*Individual Results May Vary
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