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The 411 on Lung Function Tests

By HERWriter
 
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What are Lung Function Tests?

Lung function tests are also known as pulmonary function tests (PFTs) and can be completed through a variety of methods.

The purpose of the lung function test is to - obviously - test how well your lungs do their job. The tests will evaluate how well your lungs take in and hold oxygen, and remove carbon dioxide from the bloodsteam. They will examine how much air you can blow out of your lungs and how quickly, and how strong your breathing muscles are.

Lung function tests can be used to verify the presence of any difficulties, as well as track the progress of any administered treatment. They are commonly used to verify the presence of conditions such as asthma, lung tissue scarring, sarcoidosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

What Kind of Lung Function Tests are Used?

The most common test is called spirometry. The spirometer measures how much air you can breathe in and how fast you can breathe it out. This is done by breathing into a mouthpiece attached to the spirometer. The test may be done in conjunction with walking or running on a treadmill.

Spirometry also measures:

- the amount of air you can exhale after inhaling as deeply as possible (forced vital capacity - FVC);

- the amount of air you can exhale with force in one breath (forced expiratory volume - FEV);

- the air flow mid-exhale (forced expiratory flow 25% to 75%);

- how quickly you can exhale (peak expiratory flow - PEF);

- the greatest amount of air you can inhale and exhale in 60 seconds (maximum voluntary ventilation (MVV));

- the amount of oxygen you can slowly exhale after inhaling as deeply as possible (slow vital capacity (SVC));

- the amount of air in your lungs after inhaling as deeply as possible (total lung capacity (TLC));

- the amount of air in your lungs once you've exhaled normally (functional residual capacity (FRC));

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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