Everything You Need to Know About a Pulmonary Function Test

A Pulmonary function test involves a set of tests that help to measure the functioning of the lungs. It examines how well the patient is able to breathe and how effectively the lungs are capable of bringing oxygen to rest of the body parts. These tests are also known as Spirometry or lung function tests. Pulmonary function test cost is inexpensive in nature and can be performed at any diagnostic centre of India.

Why are these tests done?

A doctor may order these tests-

  • If one is suffering from symptoms of lung problems.
  • As a part of the routine test.
  • To evaluate the effectiveness of the ongoing treatment.
  • To assess if the lungs are functioning properly before surgery.

A Pulmonary function test is also ordered to test Asthma and several other vital lung conditions. Some of them are-

  • Allergies,
  • Chronic Bronchitis,
  • Respiratory infections,
  • Lung Fibrosis
  • Scleroderma- a disease that affects the connective tissue,
  • Bronchiectasis- a condition in which airways in the lungs are widened and stretched.
  • Sarcoidosis- a condition that causes inflammation to the lungs, liver, lymph nodes, skins, eyes and other tissues.
  • Pulmonary tumour, etc.

How to prepare for the test?To prepare for a PFT test, the patient needs to consult with the doctor regarding medications. The doctor might ask the patient to stop taking medicines before performing the test. One needs to make sure not to eat heavy meal before the test. This is because, a full stomach just before the test prevents the lungs from inhaling properly. A doctor also asks to avoid in taking food and drinks containing caffeine, such as – coffee, chocolate, tea, etc. One should also avoid smoking and strenuous exercise before the test. He or she should wear loose-fitting clothes.

What are the types of measurement used for a pulmonary test?

Pulmonary function test interpretation can vary from one laboratory to another. However, the types of information that are obtained from this test can be categorized into four groups-

  • Lung Volumes- The lung volumes help to measure the maximum volume of the lungs.
  • Flow Rates- Flowrates help to measure the maximum flow of air that passes in and out the lungs.
  • Diffusing capacity– Diffusing capacity measures the amount of air that can be transferred from the alveolar space to the blood stream capillary.
  • Maximal inspiratory and expiratory pressures- It helps to measure the applied strength of the respiratory muscles.

What are the risk of taking pulmonary function test?Pulmonary function test or PFT test possesses minimal or no risk and is safe for all. However, as because, the test requires one to breathe in and out quickly, people may feel nauseous and dizzy. It can cause problems if –

  • One recently suffered a heart attack.
  • One had a recent eye, chest, abdominal surgery.
  • The patient has suffered from a severe respiratory infection and heart-related disease.

The author is an avid health blogger who writes about diseases related to respiratory problems, related tests and treatment options.

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