Notes to Know About COPD/4Asthma – Spirometry Testing, Recent Insights > Part One

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It is always important to know what is going on in the world of COPD/Asthma, hence a weekly (at the minimum) posting of ‘Notes to Know about COPD/Asthma’ – because those of us battling the issue should always be up to date on what is going on, and that includes both the positives and the negatives of the COPD/Asthma life.

Our posting today will hit home for many who not only are fighting the battle of COPD/Asthma, but are also fighting an addiction to the smoking habit that most likely put them in the condition they are in.

For those wanting to quit but have not found a suitable way to do it, this post may be for you as it talks about a possible change in previous thoughts regarding whether meds used to help quit the nasty habit are safe for those with current lung diseases.

Special Note – It was a Spirometry Test that we found out just how bad my lungs were getting and made the discovery that after all these years of working on the severe asthma, we were unknowingly also beginning the battle with slowing down the progress of COPD.

For all who find themselves suffering from any sort of breathing problems, especially to the point of upsetting your lifestyle and ability to work – then talk to your physician about getting a spirometry test and if you already have had one, be sure and not be embarrassed about pushing for updated spirometry testing every year.

This is part one of two parts with a recent write found on the internet regarding Spirometry testing.

Spirometry: What to expect with the lung function test

Written by Brian Wu and Reviewed by Alana Biggers, MD, MPH

Pulmonary function tests measure how well the lungs are working. A spirometry is a pulmonary function test that measures how much air a person breathes out, and how quickly.

It is an office-based diagnostic test that is short, simple, and commonly used.

Contents of this article:

Why perform a spirometry?

A spirometry test may be used to diagnose COPD, cystic fibrosis, and asthma.

A nurse or doctor will use a spirometry to diagnose several lung conditions, including:

Asthma: The long-term inflammation, swelling and narrowing of the airways.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): A group of lung conditions that narrow the airways and create difficulties with emptying the lungs of air.

Cystic fibrosis: A hereditary condition in which the lungs and digestive organs become clogged with dense, sticky mucus.

Pulmonary fibrosis: The buildup of scar tissue in the air sacs of the lung, leading to poor oxygenation of the blood.

A doctor will use the spirometry to monitor a person’s progress as part of treatment for a chronic lung condition. It can help to determine the impact of any medications, including how they are controlling the condition.

Previous or current smokers should be tested, as well as people more than 40 years of age. Those exposed to lung-harming substances in their workplace, such as fumes, should consider checking their pulmonary health this way as well.

Procedure

The spirometry test is a simple diagnostic test carried out using a spirometer. A person will breathe into the tube attached to the spirometer, which records the results.

The doctor will ask a person about any breathing medications they may be taking, including bronchodilators. Bronchodilators help to relax the airways, widening them and making breathing easier. A person may be asked to stop taking these before the test so that their effect on breathing can be tested.

A doctor may suggest a person wears loose clothing and does not eat a large meal before the test to help their breathing.

Those taking the test should also avoid:

smoking within 24 hours of testing

strenuous exercise

consuming alcohol

The following steps take place during the procedure:

A clip is placed on the nose to close the nostrils.

The person inhales as much air as they can to fill their lungs.

A person seals their lips tightly around the mouth of the tube.

They breath directly into the tube as quickly and forcefully as they can for several seconds.

The test is usually repeated at least three times to ensure a consistent and accurate result. The highest value from the three tests is normally used as the final result. The appointment may take 30-90 minutes.

The doctor may administer a bronchodilator that is inhaled, and then run the test again. This would measure the effect that a bronchodilator has on a person’s ability to breathe.

It may not be possible for the doctor to give immediate feedback as a lung specialist, or pulmonologist, will need to provide an interpretation of results.

Results Doctor looking at test results

The spirometry test results will help the doctor to determine the next steps of treatment.

Spirometry gauges’ airflow over time. The results produce two values that are beneficial when assessing and monitoring people with impaired lung function:

Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) is the total amount of air that can be exhaled at full capacity.

Forced Expiratory Volume measured over 1 second (FEV1) refers to the flow of air during the first second of the FVC.

The FEV1 is then divided by the FVC to give the proportion of air in a person’s lungs that can be expelled in one second.

A lower-than-normal FVC reading is an indicator of restricted breathing. The FEV1 reading helps doctors determine the severity of the breathing problem. Low FEV1 readings signal a more significant breathing obstruction.

This information can help a doctor determine the next steps of treatment. Normal spirometry testing results vary from person to person. Average results depend on a variety of factors, including age, height, sex, and race.

Test results are generally compared with the average within the various groups based on data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES III).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Part two of this write about Spirometry Testing will be posted on Tuesday.

‘Notes to Know about COPD/Asthma’ will continue to feature writings from medical folks and caretakers who share insights into the world of what may be going on in the world of COPD/Asthma.  ‘Notes to Know about COPD/Asthma’ can be found at either wheezingaway.com or within the Facebook page, COPD Travels.

Remember – ‘a person without good breathing, is a person without a good life’, so let’s do what we can, to learn what we can, to improve what we can.

I bid to all – smiles, prayers, blessings and steady breathing – Mr. William.

(Copyright@2017, CrossDove Writer through wheezingaway.com – no part of this write may be used or copied without written permission.)

NOTES: Sometimes we share what may seem like medical information, but we are only giving descriptions and highlights of various aspects of having COPD and/or asthma and no way do we ever want our information to be considered medical treatment type of information, always consult your physician for more, clearer and more medical founded information.

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