Pulmonary Function Test

The first step for easy breathing

We probably don’t think much about breathing until we face trouble in breathing. When your lungs don’t work as they once did, it’s important to find out what’s wrong on an urgent basis.

If we consult a doctor for our breathing problem, he might ask us to do a lung function test. This will help the doctor diagnose the reason for breathing problems and suggest appropriate treatment.

Tests that measure the function of your lungs is known as pulmonary function tests.

Why do we need a pulmonary function test?

There are different reasons for conducting a pulmonary test. Most common reasons are:

  • Allergies
  • Respiratory infections
  • Symptoms of lung problems
  • Breathing trouble from injury or a recent surgery
  • To monitor the course of chronic lung diseases (asthma or COPD)
  • To assess how well your lungs are working before and after a surgery
  • Breathing difficulties from scoliosis, tumors, inflammation or scarring of the lungs
  • Breathing disorders due to diseases like Asbestosis, sarcoidosis, and scleroderma

There are some other reasons for doing PFT like tests in healthy people as part of a routine physical check up and also for people working in certain types of environments such as graphite factories and coal mines, to ensure their health.

What are the different types of PFT?

Spirometry: This is one of the most common lung function tests used to help diagnose breathing problems such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It measures how much air you can inhale and exhale and how fast you can empty the air from your lungs.

Pulmonary function tests are usually safe and take only 15 to 30 minutes. This is a non-invasive method. A person can easily complete the test following the proper directions. Because the test may require breathing in and out quickly and people may feel difficulties like:

  • Dizziness during the tests
  • Feeling short of breath
  • Coughing
  • Asthma attack brought on by deep inhalation

Lung function tests are important even if you have already been diagnosed with a breathing problem, or you think you may have one. A PFT can be the first step towards easier breathing.

Authored By Dr.V.Sivakumar (M.B.B.S., M.D., FIPM)

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