If you have ever been tested for asthma or allergies, chances are you’ve taken a spirometry test before. It’s an easy, painless test that evaluates your lung function and breathing capacities. It is over 90% accurate in detecting asthma, so it is frequently used to diagnose or rule out asthma as a cause of respiratory symptoms.
What to Expect at a Spirometry Test
At your spirometry test, your doctor will instruct you to blow into a spirometer, which is a machine with a plastic mouthpiece. A breathing mask will be placed on your mouth, and a nose clip will be used so you’re only using your mouth to breathe. With the mask in place, your doctor will instruct you to take a deep breath, hold your breath, and exhale.
The spirometry machine measures two lung functions:
- Forced vital capacity (FVC), or the total amount of air you can exhale after breathing deeply
- Forced expiratory volume (FEV-1), or the total amount of air you can exhale in one second
The breathing exercise is performed multiple times for accuracy and the test takes a total of 30 minutes.
Why Should I Undergo a Spirometry Test?
A spirometry test is often ordered if a patient consistently exhibits the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Difficulty breathing fully and properly
It can be used to diagnose and detect several conditions, including:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Restrictive lung disease
- Lung scarring (pulmonary fibrosis)
Outside of diagnosis, spirometry is used if you have been taking medication for one of these conditions, so your doctor can see how you are responding to it. It is also used in follow-up appointments after you are diagnosed with a chronic condition to see how you are progressing.
While spirometry testing is not dangerous, it can increase your heart rate and cause lightheadedness from breathing deeply.
How to Prepare for a Spirometry Test
If you have a spirometry test scheduled, there are some things you can do to prepare and make it easier to breathe during the evaluation:
- Wear loose clothing
- Avoid smoking for an hour before the test
- Avoid eating a large meal right before the test
- Avoid taking certain medications (only as instructed by your doctor)
At Langford Allergy, we use spirometry testing to diagnose patients and measure their breathing progression over time.
Do you have breathing difficulties or have questions about a spirometry test? Contact Langford Allergy.
Dr. Langford and our team can assess your breathing, diagnose you, and help you manage your asthma or other breathing conditions. Schedule an appointment or call our office to learn more: 478-787-4728