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Pulmonary Function Testing: Things To Know As A Patient

Numerous testing procedures are done to help diagnose specific medical issues, and tests are even available to test the function of the lungs. Pulmonary function testing is something your doctor may recommend. Here are a few things you may want to know. 

Why would you need a pulmonary function test?

In general, the doctor will order a pulmonary function test if they have reason to believe there is something wrong with your lung function. A doctor may order a test if you are having breathing issues and there is no other reasonable explanation as to why, but they may also order a test to determine how an illness is affecting your pulmonary functions. You may also be recommended for a pulmonary function test if there is a suspicion you have been exposed to something that may have caused your lungs some kind of harm. For example, if you have been exposed to chemicals or you have been in a home that was on fire. 

How is the pulmonary function test performed?

There is no one type of pulmonary function test; there are actually several. Some tests will measure the concentrations of oxygen levels that you breathe in, some tests will measure your breathing under exertion, and some tests will test how much lung volume you have. Each of the tests is performed in a different way, but most do involve either inhaling through a tube or exhaling out into a device, and some can include both actions. 

How should you get prepared before your scheduled test?

Your doctor will give you a few general instructions to follow before you have the test, but the general guidelines to prepare before the test will include things like: 

Will you know the results of the test right away?

Most of the time, you will have the test and then the doctor will contact you to come back in and discuss your results. If there are no issues found during the test, the doctor may simply call and let you know that no further treatment is needed or that you don't have any issues that need to be addressed.