What Your Lung Function Can Tell Us About Your Health
Millions of Americans suffer from chronic respiratory diseases, like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Others suffer from medical problems, like congestive heart failure, that interfere with normal lung function.
Though diagnostic imaging and lab tests can yield some information about lung-related problems, one of the best ways to assess lung symptoms (and manage treatment) is with pulmonary function testing (PFT). Pulmonary function testing includes a battery of assessments designed to assess different aspects of lung function.
With locations in Germantown, Rockville, and Beltsville, Maryland, and Alexandria, Woodbridge, and McLean, Virginia , Medical Access offers a range of lung function tests to diagnose and manage lung problems. Here’s how lung function tests work and why our team might prescribe them.
Lung function basics: What testing does
It’s easy to think of your lungs as a couple of sacs that hold air. But your lungs are (obviously) much more complicated than that.
The primary purpose of your lungs is to exchange gas. When you breathe in oxygen, tiny capillaries inside your lungs move that oxygen into your bloodstream so that it can be delivered to the rest of your body. At the same time, carbon dioxide — a waste product — passes from your blood into your lungs so that it can be exhaled and eliminated from your body.
When your lung function is compromised, that exchange process is compromised, too, and that can have far-reaching consequences for your health. Lung function testing provides specific data about a variety of lung functions that can determine the cause of symptoms, like shortness of breath, wheezing, or chronic coughing.
Once your test is complete, our team compares your results with averages for people of the same age, weight, and gender to identify abnormalities that could indicate a pulmonary disease. If you’ve already been diagnosed with a lung problem, that data can determine if your treatment is working or if it needs to be adjusted.
Types of lung function tests
Our team uses different tests, depending on your symptoms and other factors.
Spirometry is the most common type of lung function test that measures the volume and speed of air that you take into your lungs.
Gas diffusion test
This test measures how effective your lungs are at moving gases (like oxygen) from your lungs into your bloodstream.
Sometimes called a lung volume test, plethysmography measures how much air your lungs can hold and how much remains in your lungs after you exhale forcefully.
Exercise stress test
This test evaluates how well your lungs work during and after physical exercise.
In addition to diagnosing and managing diseases and identifying the cause of lung-related symptoms, we may perform lung function testing to assess the effects of chemical or toxic exposures at your home or workplace, to assess your lungs prior to surgery, or to evaluate your lungs after an abnormal chest X-ray.
Make lung health a priority
You depend on your lungs for, literally, everything. When lung function is impaired, your tissues and organs can’t get the oxygen and nutrients they need to function — which is why even mild lung-related symptoms can have a major impact on your health and your life.
If you have any breathing-related issues, including shortness of breath or chronic cough, don’t ignore them. Book a lung function evaluation appointment online or over phone at Medical Access today.