Spirometry is a type of Pulmonary Function Test (PFT) used to measure airflow in the lungs. Medical professionals used spirometry to measure the amount of air you inhale, exhale, and time taken to exhale. In this article, we take a look at the importance of spirometry.

What can I expect during a spirometry test?

In this test, you will most likely be sitting. The doctor will tell you to breathe into a tube that is connected to a machine (Spirometer). You will be instructed on what to do, don’t hesitate to ask questions if you need more clarity.

  • A clip will be put on your nose to close your nostrils.
  • You’ll be instructed to form a seal around the breathing tube with your lips.
  • You’ll inhale deeply, and then exhale forcefully into the tube a number of times.
  • You’ll most likely repeat the spirometry test multiple times to achieve consistent results.
  • The whole procedure takes about 15 minutes.

In some cases, the doctor might provide you with a bronchodilator inhaler following the initial spirometry measurements. This inhaler is used to open the airways. Normally, you’ll wait some 15 minutes prior to being tested again with a spirometer. The doctor will do a comparison of the original spirometry test results against those gotten after employing a bronchodilator.

Measurements obtained from spirometry

Forced Vital Capacity (FVC): This is how much air you are able to exhale after inhaling deeply.

Forced Expiratory Volume in One Second (FEV1): It shows how much air you are able to forcefully breathe out during the 1st second of the Forced Vital Capacity test.

Peak Expiratory Flow Rate (PEFR): This test measures how quickly you can exhale, and the results re based on the age, gender, ethnic background, height and weight.

Total Lung Capacity (TLC): Amount of air in your lungs after taking a deep breath.

Forced Expiratory Volume (FEV): This test indicates how much air is forcefully exhaled in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd seconds of the Forced Vital Capacity.

Maximum Voluntary Ventilation (MVV): Measures how much air you can inhale and exhale in one minute.

Forced Expiratory Flow (FEF): Volume of air in the middle of breathing out.

Functional Residual Capacity (FRC): Quantity of air that remains in the lungs after taking a normal breath.

Tidal Volume (TV): Amount of air that is breathed in or out during a normal breath.

Minute Volume (MV): Volume of air breathed out per minute.

Vital Capacity (VC): amount of air you can blow out after breathing in as much as you can.

Importance of spirometry

For those suffering from serious or prolonged lung diseases, undergoing lung airflow testing is crucial. Apart from lung function testing, spirometry shows whether there is obstruction or restriction in the airway. It assists doctors in identifying obstructive and restrictive lung illnesses, and other chronic lung diseases. Spirometry also helps doctors to know the effectiveness of a treatment plan for lung disorders. If the treatment plan isn’t working for you, the doctor may advise on a different mode of treatment.

Monitoring the function of your lungs, the effectiveness of treatment and the progress of the lung disease is really important. Examples of treatments used are inhalers, exercise, diet, oxygen therapy and cellular therapy. If you want more information on spirometry tests, you can learn more at Health Screen.

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Sara T. Loving

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