Lung Function Tests

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The lungs are vital organs in the human respiratory system. The main role of your lungs is to carry and supply oxygen to the bloodstream. Then, the oxygen will circulate throughout the rest of your body. In order for you to breathe properly, you use the diaphragm muscles, intercostal muscles (which are between the ribcage), abdominal muscles and neck muscles.

Your lungs do not have the same size. Your right lung is slightly wider but also shorter than your left lung. Your right lung is shorter because it has to make room for the liver just below it. As for your left lung, it is smaller as it has to make room for your heart. 

Normally, men’s lungs can hold more air than women’s lungs. At rest, men’s lungs can hold about 750 cc of air, while women’s lungs can hold about 285 to 393 cc of air.

Purposes of Lung Function Tests 

Lung function tests include a variety of tests to check how well your lungs are working. The most common test is called spirometry. This test measures the amount of air the lungs can hold.  This test also measures how forcefully a person can empty air from the lungs. Spirometry is used to detect diseases that affect the volume of the lungs. Spirometry is also used to detect diseases that affect the airways, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.

Lung volume testing is a commonly performed lung function test. This test is more accurate than spirometry and is used to measure the volume of air in the lungs, including air that remains at the end of the normal breath. Additionally, lung volume testing also measures how easily oxygen enters the bloodstream. Exercise tests help evaluate the causes of shortness of breath.

Who Needs a Lung Function Test? 

Your lungs have various problems that may be caused by numerous factors such as genetics, bad habits, unhealthy diet and viruses. The most common lung conditions are reactive airways or asthma, as well as emphysema caused by cigarette smoking.

The following are some examples of lung diseases: 

  • Asthma
    Asthma is a lung disease, in which the airways in your lungs become inflamed and narrowed — making it difficult to breathe. 
  • Lung cancer
    This disease is one of the most common and most common types of cancer. Symptoms of lung cancer include coughing up blood, persistent cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, headache, hoarseness, weight loss and bone pain.
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
    This disease is a long-term lung disease that prevents a person from breathing normally due to excess mucus or degeneration of the lungs. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are considered COPD diseases. Smoking is one of the main causes of this disease. People with COPD need to get a lung transplant to save their lives. Research is also conducted to develop new lungs from stem cells. Stem cells are now extracted from your blood or bone marrow for a treatment to heal damaged lung tissue.
  • Lung Infection
    Lung infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia are usually caused by viruses, but may also be caused by organisms such as bacteria and fungi. Some severe or chronic lung infections can cause fluid in the lungs and other symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes, coughing up blood and a lasting fever.
  • Overweight
  • Weight loss may also affect lung performance. Being overweight can reduce your lungs’ efficiency and other respiratory organs.

Cost Estimation for Lung Function Tests

The cost treatment lung function test may vary — depending on the hospital and clinic that provides the procedure. Each hospital and clinic usually offers a variety of service packages based on your diagnosis needs and financial ability.

For more details regarding the cost for lung function tests, please contact Smarter Health.

Pre-Lung Function Test

In general, you do not have to prepare anything specifics before your lung function test procedure. However, you still have to handle both administrative and medical arrangements. 

  • You need to make an appointment with your doctor first. You can also consult your doctor about this procedure.
  • Tell your doctor if you have allergies to certain medicines.
  • Inform your doctor about any medicines that you are taking, either medical or herbal.
  • Let your doctor know about your medical record, especially if you have lung-related diseases 
  • If you have had a past lung function test at different hospitals, you need to let your doctor know about your test results so that he or she can get more accurate information about your condition.
  • If you are an active smoker, it is better to stop smoking before doing the test.

During Lung Function Test

To diagnose whether your lungs are still working properly or not, numerous tests are required. The tests may be done in stages. However, the test may also be done based on your diagnosis needs.

  • Diffusion Capacity Test
    In this test, you will be seated and your doctor will instruct you to inhale certain gases such as helium, carbon dioxide and oxygen. This is done to find out how well the alveoli are working in your lungs.
  • Spirometry
    This test uses a device that will later read your lung condition based on how much breath and pressure exhaled from your mouth. It is very easy to do — you will only need to do a few breaths as ordered by your doctor using the spirometry. 
  • Plethysmography Test
    This test is used to measure how well the lungs can function to hold air. You sit in a clear airtight box that looks like a phone booth (the walls are usually made of glass), then your doctor will give you instructions. 
  • Exercise Tests
    This test is used to measure how strong your lungs and heart are under certain physical conditions. Usually, you will run on a treadmill and your doctor will evaluate your condition periodically

Post-Lung Function Test  

The duration of the test depends on the method used. In general, your doctor will conduct numerous evaluations and perform various experiments over and over again to get accurate results.

Understanding Your Lung Function Test Results 

In general, you will be able to get your test results shortly after the test is complete. However,  your doctor may suggest other tests  if necessary. 

Risks of Lung Function Tests

The primary benefit of a lung function test is that your doctor may use the data from the test results for diagnostic purposes. This will help your doctor determine the right treatment for you. Meanwhile, a lung function test is a low-risk test. Of all the methods mentioned above, they are all involved in using machines to detect your lungs. 

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