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3 FAQ About Pulmonary Function Testing

Anytime you see the word pulmonary, you should automatically think about the lungs. When it comes to pulmonary testing, a health care professional is trying to find out how well the lungs are functioning. If you don't know much about testing the lungs, here are the answers to 3 frequently asked questions about pulmonary function testing.

1. Are There Different Types of Pulmonary Function Tests?

One type of pulmonary function test is called spirometry. Using a spirometer, this type of test measures how much air you are able to inhale and exhale. Spirometry also measures how quickly you exhale. Spirometry is used to screen for certain lung diseases.

The other type of pulmonary function test is called plethysmography. This type of test uses a plethysmograph, which is used to measure volume changes in the lungs. This type of test is used to determine whether your lungs have been damaged by certain pollutants. It also measures the effect that certain lung diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, has had on the lungs. 

You'll be glad to know that both spirometry and plethysmography are noninvasive tests.

2. What Are Some Reasons for Pulmonary Function Testing?

In many cases, lung disease is chronic, or there is no cure. These types of lung diseases include asthma, COPD, lung cancer, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary fibrosis. Those who have been diagnosed with any of these lung diseases may need pulmonary function testing on a regular basis.

Pulmonary function testing services may also be necessary when the following symptoms are present:

Other people that may need pulmonary function testing include those who have medical conditions, such as tumors or scoliosis that restricts their airway.

3. Who Provides Pulmonary Function Testing Services?

There are many healthcare providers that offer pulmonary function testing services. Most large hospitals and clinics have a specialist on staff called a pulmonologist. This type of doctor diagnoses health conditions that affect the respiratory system.

Besides a spirometry or plethysmography, a pulmonologist uses X-rays of the lungs, blood tests, and sleep studies in order to correctly diagnose lung disease. After a diagnosis is made, a pulmonologist will help you find an effective treatment plan that includes managing your symptoms. If you think you need to see a pulmonologist or need pulmonary function testing services, ask your doctor for a referral.