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Most people dealing with chronic lung disease will have had a Pulmonary Function Test in their life, and more often than not, have them very regularly. Pulmonary Function Tests or PFT’s, measure how well your lungs are working and getting oxygen to the rest of your body. These tests are ordered for patients with asthma, allergies, chronic lung disease, respiratory issues and many more.

There are multiple types of PFT’s your doctor can order depending on the particular lung problems you experience. Some deal with intake of breath as well how fast you exhale. Each designed to measure different results, which can help alter medications and treatment of lung disease. A few common PFT’s includes Spirometry, Plethysmography test, Diffusion capacity test and 6-minute Walk tests.

Spirometry measures the amount of air you breathe in and out. The test uses a mouthpiece that you will continue to breathe in and out of very fast until your doctor tells you to stop. They will often follow this up by having the patient breathe in a medication that helps to open up your airways and then hook you back up to a machine, repeating the same drill, to see how it has affected your breathing.

Lung Plethysmography tests will see how much gas or volume you have in your lungs. This is done by having the patient take the test in a booth while breathing into a mouthpiece. They will then measure the patient’s lung volume by the controlled pressure in the booth. In other words, your doctor can see how much air you can hold within your lungs.

Diffusion Capacity tests how lungs are processing air. This test is common in patients with asthma and COPD. This test is performed by inhaling a small amount of carbon monoxide as well as helium or methane. Then the test measures how much gas was taken in during the patient’s inhale.

Patients with moderate or severe lung disease will most likely undergo a 6-minute walk test, especially at the beginning of their treatment. This test shows how well people with COPD do with regular exercise and how their bodies are reacting to the medication during exercise. A 6-minute test will be performed on a flat surface to see how fast the patient can walk and their bodies reaction to it.

This broad scope of options when it comes to testing helps physicians find the best way to diagnose and treat patients struggling with lung health. Pulmonary Function Tests are essential to the diagnoses and treatment of anyone with lung disease.