A pulmonary function test (PFT) is a type of breathing test that measures how well your lungs are working. This test is also called spirometry or lung function testing. PFTs diagnose and monitor lung conditions such as asthma, COPD, and interstitial lung disease. A Bridgewater pulmonary function test can also be used to see how well the treatment works for a lung condition.
This test is important because it can help your doctor determine if you have a lung disease and how severe it is. It can also show if your lung condition is improving, worsening, or staying the same.
What can you do during a pulmonary function test?
You will be asked to blow into a tube connected to a spirometer machine. The spirometer can measure the amount of air you inhale and exhale and how fast you can blow the air out. The test usually takes about 15 minutes.
What do the results mean?
Your pulmonary function test results are given as a percentage of a normal lung function. The results are compared to what is considered normal for someone your age, height, gender, and ethnicity. A lower-than-normal result may mean that you have a lung condition. Your doctor will discuss your test results and explain their meaning.
Your doctor may order a pulmonary function test if you have signs or symptoms of a lung condition, such as:
- Shortness of breath: When you experience shortness of breath, your lungs may not get enough oxygen. A pulmonary function test can help determine if your shortness of breath is due to a lung condition.
- Coughing: A cough can signify many conditions, including asthma, COPD, and lung cancer. A pulmonary function test can help find the cause of your cough.
- Wheezing: Wheezing is a high-pitched whistling sound made when you breathe. It can be a sign of asthma or other lung conditions.
- Chest pain: Chest pain can signify many different conditions, including heart disease, lung disease, and muscle problems. A pulmonary function test can help find the cause of your chest pain.
- Exposure to a lung irritant: If you have been exposed to a substance that can irritate your lungs, such as smoke or asbestos, your doctor may order a pulmonary function test to check for lung damage.
There are several reasons your doctor may order a PFT:
To diagnose a lung condition
A lung condition can cause symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing. A PFT can help your doctor diagnose the condition by measuring how well your lungs function.
To monitor a lung condition
If you have been diagnosed with a lung condition, such as asthma or COPD, your doctor may use a PFT to monitor your condition. This test can help your doctor see how well your lungs are functioning and if your condition is getting worse.
To see how well the treatment is working
The treatment for a lung condition, such as asthma or COPD, may include medication. A PFT can help your doctor see if the treatment works by measuring how well your lungs are functioning.
If you have signs or symptoms of a lung condition, talk to your doctor at Respacare about whether a PFT is suitable for you.