The Ultimate Guide: Pulmonary Function Testing

ADC Pulmonary testing

Some information provided by Johns Hopkins Medicine

Pulmonary function tests measure how well the lungs take in and exhale air.  It also helps to determine how efficiently the lungs transfer oxygen into the bloodstream.  This test is helpful in diagnosing certain types of lung disorders such as asthma and/or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). There are 2 types of disorders that cause problems with air moving in and out of the lungs:

  • Obstructive. This is when air has trouble flowing out of the lungs due to resistance. This causes a decreased flow of air.
  • Restrictive. This is when the chest muscles can’t expand enough. This creates problems with air flow.

There are many different reasons why pulmonary function tests (PFTs) may be done. They are sometimes done in healthy people as part of a routine physical. Or you may have PFTs if your healthcare provider needs help to diagnose you with a health problem such as:

  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Chronic Bronchitis
  • Respiratory Infections
  • Lung Fibrosis
  • Bronchiectasis  (a condition in which the airways in the lungs stretch and widen)
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) (formerly known as“emphysema”)
  • Asbestosis (a condition caused by exposure to asbestos)
  • Sarcoidosis (an inflammation of your lungs, liver, lymph nodes, eyes, skin, or other tissues)
  • Scleroderma (a disease that affects your connective tissue)
  • Pulmonary Tumor
  • Lung Cancer

PFTs are usually safe for most people. However, because the test may require you to breathe in and out quickly, you may feel dizzy and there’s a risk that you might faint. If you feel lightheaded, tell your doctor. The test may cause you to have an asthma attack if you have asthma. In extremely rare cases, PFTs may be responsible for a collapsed lung.

A few pieces of advice are to avoid eating a large meal before testing. A full stomach can prevent lungs from inhaling fully. A person should also avoid food and drinks that contain caffeine, such as chocolate, coffee, and tea, before the test. Caffeine can cause airways to open. Lastly, a person should also avoid smoking and strenuous exercise before the test.

Contact us for any questions or to set up an appointment.


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1 Comment

  1. Why no mention of Pulmonary Fibrosis?


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