Pulmonary Function Tests on the West Bank

Diagnosing pulmonary conditions

Pulmonary function tests are a group of tests that measure how well the lungs take in and release air and how well they move gases such as oxygen from the atmosphere into the body's circulation.

Pulmonary function tests are done to:

  • Diagnose certain types of lung disease (such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and COPD)
  • Find the cause of shortness of breath
  • Check lung function before someone has surgery
  • Assess the effect of medication
  • Measure progress in disease treatment

Spirometry, which means “the measuring of breath,” is a routinely used pulmonary function test (PFT). The test involves sitting and breathing into a mouthpiece that is connected to an instrument called a spirometer. The spirometer records the amount and the rate of air that you breathe in and out over a period of time. Results from the test can be used to estimate lung function and aid in the diagnosis of certain respiratory disorders.

For some of the test measurements, you can breathe normally and quietly. Other tests require forced inhalation or exhalation after a deep breath. Sometimes you will be asked to inhale the substance or a medicine to see how it changes your test results.

How to prepare for the test

Do not eat a heavy meal before the test. Do not smoke or consume caffeine up to 6 hours before the test. You will get specific instructions if you need to stop using bronchodilators or inhaler medications. You may have to breathe in medication before or during the test.

How the test will feel

Since the test involves some forced breathing and rapid breathing, you may have some temporary shortness of breath or light-headedness. You breathe through a mouthpiece and you will have nose clips.