Lung Function Test: Do You Need One?
Do you often feel short of breath without good reason? Your breath is everything; it provides oxygen and fuel to your entire body. There are a number of different breathing problems that can cause difficulty in your everyday life, as well as serious health consequences.
A lung function test, also known as a pulmonary function test, is able to measure how efficiently your lungs take in air and spread oxygen all around your body, these tests can help pinpoint a range of breathing problems. With clear diagnoses any issues you may be experiencing with breathing can be treated, and as a result greatly improved. Here we explain everything you need to know about lung function tests, including how one may benefit you.
Common Breathing Problems
Some common breathing problems include, chronic sinusitis, allergies, and asthma. Breathing problems can be acute, but are often chronic. Over 50 million Americans currently suffer from allergies of some sort, and allergies happen to be the leading cause of asthma. When the body is exposed to the same irritant over and over, this can lead to permanent damage in the form of asthma.
Another common breathing problem impacting a lot of Americans is obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which ranges to include chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Lung cancer, tuberculosis, and lung diseases linked to HIV/AIDS can also cause breathing problems.
When left untreated, all breathing problems can reduce quality of life and make everyday activities a challenge. If you are experiencing difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, or any other symptoms related to breathing, a lung function test can help identify if the issue is related to your lungs.
Lung Function Test—What Does It Do?
Allergies, asthma, pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema are just some of the breathing problems that can be detected using a lung function test. Lung function tests measure a number of things going on within your lungs, including:
- How much air you draw in at one time
- How fast you can draw in and exhale air
- How efficiently oxygen is delivered to your body through your blood
- How strong your breathing muscles are
Type Of Lung Function Tests
There are different breathing tests that can be administered for a lung function analysis. Some common types of tests include:
Spirometry: This test is used to measure the amount of air you take in and out over a period of time. It also measures the speed at which you exhale air.
Body Plethysmography: This test is used to calculate how much air is inside of your lungs when you fully breathe in and out.
Lung Diffusion Capacity: This test is used to determine how efficiently oxygen moves from your lungs and through your blood stream.
The appropriate test(s) will be determined depending on the suspected issue, symptoms, your medical history, and the results of your physical exam.
A lung function test will indicate any red flags within the lungs that could be contributing to your difficulty breathing.
Blood Oxygen Tests
Lung function tests also include blood oxygen tests, which include 2 different types of exams.
Pulse Oximetry: This non-invasive method measures your oxygen saturation levels using a sensor device, which disperses 2 wavelengths of light through your body to determine your oxygen absorbance levels.
Arterial Blood Gas Test: This method involves sampling blood straight from an artery, generally from your arm. This sample is then sent to a laboratory for testing in order to measure the present oxygen.
Additional Tests For Diagnoses
In some cases additional testing is required to determine the exact issue. For example, after your lung function test you may be administered an exercise stress test to measure your lungs and heart while you work out on a treadmill or other equipment. In some cases a chest CT exam is necessary in order to get a clear idea what is causing the lungs to function improperly.
Lung function tests are very easy on the patient and are not known to cause any pain or common side effects. Once you identify the cause of your breathing problems a doctor can prescribe a remedy to help you feel better on a daily basis. (Learn More)
Poor Lung Function: The Warning Signs
If your lungs are not working at peak efficiency, your body is not getting adequate oxygen. As a result there are a number of symptoms that can arise, alerting you to a problem.
Signs you may need a lung function test include:
- Increased breathing rate
- Shortness of breath “air hunger”
- Dizzy, light headed, and even fainting
- Bluish tint to skin (indicates low levels of oxygen in the blood)
- Hot and cold flashes
- Some people experience flashes of euphoria, as well as a warm or tingly sensation
- Decrease in judgment or coordination
- Aggression, agitation
- Tunnel vision or blurry vision
In the most severe cases that go untreated one may become unconscious and stop breathing all together, in which case they need to be rushed to the hospital ER immediately.
If you are experiencing symptoms related to low oxygen your lungs might not be properly working. The sooner you are able to identify the issue, the sooner you will be on the road to recovery. We are here for you! Visit your local Urgent Medical Center today for a lung function test.