How can you rest assured that your lungs are working well? The best way is to visit your urgent care doctor for getting a pulmonary function test (PFT). Wondering what are these tests for and how do you prepare for a lung function test? In this post, we’ll help you understand the purpose, preparation, and procedure of this test while explaining the result outcomes.
Let’s dive in to learn more about PFTs!
What are Pulmonary Function Tests?
PFTs are a group of non-invasive tests that help your doctor check how well your lungs are working and identify any issues. The tests provide measurements like lung volume, gas exchange, rates of flow, and lung capacity. This information can help your healthcare provider diagnose and treat certain lung disorders. This includes how well you can breathe and your lungs can circulate oxygen to the rest of the body.
Types of Lung Disorders
Any problem with the flow of air in and out of the lungs can be caused by two types of disorders: Obstructive & Restrictive.
Obstructive – This occurs when airway resistance obstructs the air flow out of the lungs which decrease the flow of air.
Restrictive – When the lung tissue can’t expand enough, it lowers lung volumes which creates issues with the air flow.
Conditions Analyzed by Pulmonary Function Tests
Your urgent care doctor will order these tests for many different reasons. They may be done as part of a routine physical or performed if you already have a condition that is affecting your lungs to help determine any progress.
- PFTs can help diagnose possible health conditions including:
- Chronic bronchitis
- Lung fibrosis
- Respiratory infections
- Pulmonary tumors or lung cancer
- Breathing problems due to recent surgery or chest injury
- Asbestosis, a disease caused by exposure to asbestos fibers
- COPD or emphysema
- Sarcoidosis, growth of inflammatory cells in the lungs
- Chest wall muscles become weak
- Bronchiectasis, a condition in which airways stretch and expand in the lungs
- Scleroderma, a disease affecting the connective tissue
People who work in a hazardous environment or breathe in very fine particles including coal, graphite, paint, sawdust, and asbestos are also advised to go for PTs.
Types of PFTs
Different types of pulmonary function tests include different processes and time durations. Based on what your urgent care doctor is looking for, here are some of the types of PFTs.
Spirometry – A test that measures the amount of air one breathes in and out. It helps diagnose lung size and the rate of airflow as a person breathes. A spirometer is a device with a mouthpiece attached to an electronic machine. A person breathes in deeply through the tube and rapidly expel the air.
Lung Diffusion Capacity – This test helps your doctor examine how well the oxygen from the air you inhale gets into the blood. Your doctor may ask you to breathe normally through a tube.
Pulse Oximetry Test – Your walk-in doctor may perform this test to measure the oxygen level in the blood, which indicates how well your lungs are functioning.
Exercise Test – A person with specific symptoms like shortness of breath is recommended for this test. In this test, a doctor monitors how a person responds to exercise like walking on the treadmill or using a standing bike.
Lung Volume Tests – The amount of air your lungs can hold is measured by this test. For this, a person sits in a sealed booth with clear walls for the test. He/she is asked to breathe normally and then vigorously to help the doctor measure the pressure in the booth.
How to Get Ready for PFTs?
To help you prepare for a PFT, here are some guidelines your doctor may ask you to follow:
- Avoid taking certain medicines before the test to ensure an accurate reading.
- Do not eat a heavy meal or certain drinks before the procedure.
- Stop smoking or consuming alcohol to get an accurate result.
- Don’t indulge in any type of physical activity.
- Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes.
What Happens During The Tests?
Your procedure depends on your condition and the method used by your walk-in doctor. Following steps will be taken to conduct PFTs.
- You will be asked to sit in a chair and your nose is covered with a soft clip.
- A sterile mouthpiece attached to a spirometer will be given to you.
- You will be asked to inhale and exhale in different ways.
- Your doctor will carefully watch you for breathing issues, dizziness, and other problems.
- For certain tests, you may be given bronchodilator after which the doctor will repeat the tests.
What Do The Results Mean?
Since the average value changes from person to person, your doctor will take the results based on the age, sex and height factor. The values that are abnormal may indicate an issue in the lungs. In this case, your urgent care doctor may order one or more tests to help diagnose the condition.
Pulmonary function tests are safe and useful for identifying and monitoring how well your lungs are performing their functions. If you are looking for the experienced doctors of the renowned Brooklyn urgent care clinic, visit Artisans of Medicine today! We work together with you to find the best solution.