When Should You Get a Pulmonary Function Test?
When you have trouble breathing, your doctor may recommend that you undergo a pulmonary function test. This test determines how well your lungs are working. The results can aid you and your doctor in determining the source of the problem.
The Pulmonary Function Test (PFT) is a lung test. A PFT examines how well the lungs inhale and exhale air, as well as how well they transmit oxygen into the blood. Lung volume and capacity, flow rates, and gas exchange are all measured throughout the examinations.
What does a Pulmonary Function Test diagnose?
Pulmonary function tests can do the following:
- Detect lung disease early
- Measure the breathing muscles’ strength
- Examine the progression of lung disease
- Assess the efficacy of any ongoing therapy
- Diagnose the reason for shortness of breath
- Evaluate the severity of any lung disease
- Identify any post-surgical problems
What to Expect from a Pulmonary Function Test
Different types of PFTs can be carried out. Depending on the health concerns your doctor is trying to diagnose, you may be asked to take one or more of these tests.
Types of Pulmonary Function Tests
Each test is carried out differently. Here’s an exhaustive list of PFTs.
- Spirometry sitting/supine
- Body plethysmography
- Methacholine inhalation challenge
- Six-minute walk test
- Exhaled nitric oxide test
- Arterial blood gas test
- Lung volume test
- Lung diffusion capacity
- Cardiopulmonary exercise test
- Oximetry with ambulation
- Respiratory muscle strength test
- Altitude simulation tests
- Exercise challenge (spirometry before and after)
- Shunt study (100% O₂)
- Maximal voluntary volume (MVV)
How to Prepare for a Pulmonary Function Test
Do not eat a large meal before the test, because you will be doing a lot of deep breathing. If you smoke, you should stop smoking four to six hours before the exam. Because PFTs determine the quality of your lung function, you may need to take some precautions before undergoing the test. You may need to quit taking asthma or chronic bronchitis drugs that widen your airways, for example.
Any modifications to your prescription regimen should be discussed with your doctor ahead of time. Because pain medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, may interfere with test findings, you may need to avoid them.
If you have any questions, call your doctor’s office for clarifications before the test date.
Questions To Ask Your Physician
Make a list of any questions you may have. To get you started, consider the following questions:
- Why do I require this examination?
- What issues will it address?
- How much time will it take?
- When can I expect to receive my results?
- Do I need to stop taking any medications before the test?
Aftermath of a Pulmonary Function Test
Because of all the deep breathing, you may feel lightheaded during or post the exam. Make sure to tell the pulmonary therapist about anything you’re experiencing.
Where Can I Get a Pulmonary Function Test Near Me?
Your primary care physician may recommend a suitable testing facility or location. Or you can reach out to us and get tested at our centers. EliteCare Health Centers are present at multiple locations in Florida.
The test is uncomplicated. Your weight and height will be measured in the pulmonary function lab by a pulmonary therapist. Based on your size, gender, age, and nationality, they can predict what your normal values should be.
You will be escorted to the PFT machine in the testing area. Depending on your physician’s type of PFT prescribed, the therapist will show you how to breathe. They may instruct you to take deep breaths in and out, hold your breath for a few seconds, or take short, fast, or long breaths. The tests may be repeated to ensure that your respiratory function is accurately represented.
The results of the PFT will be reviewed and interpreted by a pulmonary specialist, and they will be entered in your electronic medical records for you and your primary care physician to review and discuss. In case you are experiencing shortness of breath, schedule an appointment with our primary care physicians by calling us at 1-888-596-2090.