Everything You Need To Know About The Pulmonary Function Test (PFT)

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Everything You Need To Know About The Pulmonary Function Test (PFT)

PFT Test is the examination that is conducted to measure the functioning and wellness of your lungs. They are also called the lung function test. The full form of PFT test is Pulmonary Function test. These tests help you know whether you are facing any difficulty while breathing or whether your lungs are effectively passing oxygen to every part of the body. Patients with respiratory diseases or those who are suspected of having respiratory issues have to undergo through these tests like asthma diagnosis PFT or diagnostic test for lung cancer.

What is a lung function test or PFT?

If you are wondering what is a PFT test, then here’s the simple explanation for you, PFT lung test is a noninvasive test that not only diagnoses the lung disorder but also helps in deciding the treatment plan as per the kind of lung disorder. PFT includes several tests that monitor the function of the lungs. These tests provide information on the integrity and size of the pulmonary capillary bed, pulmonary parenchyma, and the small and large airways. They are also an effective lung infection test.

Among all, PFT spirometry is the most basic test. This PFT test procedure measures how much air the lungs can hold and also how forcefully air can be emptied from it. PFTs also include lung capacity test that helps in measuring lung size, lung volume and airflow and gas exchange.

It’s not necessary that people with lung disorder or respiratory diseases are the only one to undergo PFTs, even healthy people can go through these tests for a routine health checkup. People working in coal mines and graphite factory should go for PFTs because they are more likely to catch respiratory problems from their work environment.

When to take a PFT Test?

  • If you have symptoms of any respiratory disorder or a lung infection.
  • If you are going to have treatment or surgery related to the lungs. At that time, PFTs are recommended to check the actual condition of your lungs and other respiratory organs.
  • If you are working or living in an environment with a lot of air pollution then surely doctors will recommend you to have PFT as your routine health checkup as such a situation makes you more prone to lung problems.
  • If you are suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or Asthma then to monitor the duration and effect of these problems, your doctor may recommend you to undergo through PFT test.

What are the Types of PFT and How to do a lung function test?

Pulmonary Function Tests consist of measures and diagnosis methods that can ascertain the functioning as well as the capacity of your lungs. PFTs are of following types-

  • Spirometry

This can be called a basic and straightforward breathing test that is performed to ascertain your breathing capacity or the amount of air that you can breathe in and out at a time. You will be given a sensor (PFT machine) along with a tube that you can use for a breathing test, and the physician will ask you to breathe slowly, quickly and generally at times to see whether you are facing any difficulty in breathing or not.

  • Gas Exchange test

This test is performed to assess the limit of oxygen that flows from air sacs of your lungs to the blood. Your physician may ask you to hold your breath briefly as well as to breathe deeply or generally to assess different lung disorders.

  • Lung volumes test

This test is performed to ascertain the volume of gas in your lungs while you breathe in different ways. A plethysmograph is a PFT machine that is used to conduct this test. During this test, you will be asked to sit comfortably at a place and then breathe in and out or sometimes you may also have to pant. This test proves to be very helpful in diagnosing obstructive lung disease like asthma (lung function test for asthma) and restrictive lung disease like pulmonary fibrosis.

  • Others

Some other tests that are included in PFTs are Maximal Voluntary Ventilation test, oxygen titration test, PFT with DLCO (Diffusing capacity of the lungs for carbon monoxide) test, Inspiratory and Expiratory muscle pressure test, methacholine challenge test, six-minute walk test, compliance testing, Impulse Oscillation test, Fractional Exhaled Nitric Oxide test, cardiopulmonary exercise test, and high altitude simulation test. All these lung function tests to detect lung cancer, asthma or COPD are critical to be performed, but they give a very clear and accurate result for diagnostic by which doctors can quickly know what’s wrong with your respiratory organs and exactly where you are having trouble.

What happens in a lung function test?

These tests are absolutely safe and do not hurt. They are carried out by an expert pulmonary technician who requires you to blow and breathe the air in the maximum possible effort. Tests are repeated multiple times to ensure accuracy of the results. You may want to wear loose fitting, comfortable clothing and sports shoes for the exercise test which is usually performed on a bike or treadmill. A cardiac monitor and blood pressure machine will be attached to monitor your vital during the test. You will receive further instructions on how to prepare for this test when you schedule your appointment for the PFT test.

How long does a lung function test take?

For those who are wondering about how long does a PFT Test take, the average PFT takes about 45 minutes to complete. However, PFT testing time depends on what the doctor has requested and may vary from one person to another.

What are the side-effects of the lung function test?

Usually, no side effects from the PFTs occur.  However, some patients feel a bit tired after the test, which is quite normal. You can continue your normal activities when the test is over.

How to interpret lung function test results?

The PFT interpretation of PFT test results requires advanced knowledge of the respiratory physiology. Normal PFT values are based on a patient’s gender, height, and age. If there is an abnormal PFT result, a lung problem may be present. However, a patient with healthy lungs may sometimes have a PFT test result that goes beyond the PFT test normal range. Your doctor will explain the significance of your PFT test report.

How to pass a lung capacity test?

The next important question is how to pass a PFT test. Bear in mind the following when performing the analysis:

  • Unless otherwise indicated, you should take your daily medicines before testing.
  • PFT is also a good lung test for smokers, so if you smoke, it is recommended to not smoke for at least six hours before testing.
  • If you use a short-acting inhaler when needed, try not using it for five to seven hours before the test.

How to improve lung function test results?

You cannot alter your lung capacity in terms of the amount of oxygen your lungs can hold at a time. But there are specific exercises that can decrease the shortness of breath if the lung function is lower than the desired range, like in people suffering from chronic pulmonary obstruction (COPD) disease. Such people may use a pulmonary rehabilitation program for better health. One should always talk to the doctor before starting any of the respiratory exercises or training programs.

What is the PFT test cost in India?

PFT test price ranges from anywhere between Rs. 300 to Rs. 1500, depending on the type of test performed.

How to test lung function at home?

Home Lung Function Test is your answer for how to test lung capacity at home. It uses a home spirometer or peak flow meter to monitor and assess all respiratory problems that you may have daily. Your doctor might test your peak inspiratory flow (PIF) and peak expiratory flow (PEF) for measuring the quantity of air inhaled and exhaled, especially if you are suffering from lung disease, such as asthma.

Author’s Note

Even if anytime you feel breathlessness, cough, wheeze, crackles that you are facing for a long time then you should consult your doctor and go for Pulmonary Function Tests to be sure about your health and to get treatment of any lung disorder on time.

Book an appointment with the best Lung specialist in Lucknow at Midland Healthcare to get the test done.

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