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Pulmonary Function Testing

What is a Pulmonary Function Test?

A Pulmonary Function Test or PFT is one that is used to evaluate the Respiratory System. The PFT can determine many things including: How fast air moves in and out of your lungs; How efficient your lungs are at putting out oxygen and removing carbon dioxide; and your lung capacity.

Who needs a Pulmonary Function Test?

You may need a PFT if you have a cough, asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD), or dyspnea (difficulty breathing).

What to expect before the test

You may be asked to stop certain medications before the test. Refrain from eating a heavy meal. Up to 6 hours before, refrain from heavy exercise and smoking. Your clothing should be loose. If you wear dentures, keep them in as this will help form a seal around the mouthpiece.

What happens during the test?

During the test, you will blow into a mouthpiece that is attached to a device called a spirometer. A spirometer is a monitor that reads your lung capacity. You will be asked to either hold your nose or wear a nose plug during the procedure. This helps prevent leakage of air from your nostrils. You will blow into the spirometer for a series of 3 different exhalations. One exhale may be as hard and fast as you can. Another may be to breathe in and out as fast as you can for a period of time. After the first series, you will be administered a medication in an inhaler, such as ventolin or albuterol. Then the 3 series of exhalations will be repeated.

The test may take anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes depending on your condition.

The results will vary depending on your sex, age, height, and sometimes your race and weight.

As with any test, follow up with your doctor to discuss the results of your Pulmonary Function Test.


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