What is a spirometer used for?
Spirometers are used by a qualified medical professional to diagnose illnesses that may affect a patient’s lung function. This may be a nurse or doctor within a private clinic, a hospital, or a trained occupational health specialist for a company. A spirometry test involves a small, medical instrument (spirometer) with a mouthpiece. A patient will take a deep breath and breathe with force into the mouthpiece attached to the spirometer. Learn more about which lung diseases spirometry can help diagnose.
What does a spirometer measure?
A spirometer will measure the air flow (the amount of air that can be breathed out in one second and the total volume of air that can be exhaled in one forced breath) and how the lungs are responding obstructively and restrictively. These measurements will be compared with a normal result which will help to diagnose any health problems relating to the lungs.
When should a spirometry test be performed?
A spirometry test is particularly advised if a patient experiences a symptom that relates directly to the healthy functioning of their lungs. For instance, this could be a persistent ongoing cough, a chest infection, unexplained difficulty in breathing, an irritation or they are over 35 and smoke.
Another reason someone may need a spirometry test would be if they are under consideration for surgery or a doctor may need it as part of several tests, even if it’s not directly related to the lungs, it may help to diagnose another condition. People who work in industries where they are exposed to fumes, chemicals and dust are also recommended for testing.
What is Forced vital capacity (FVC)?
Forced vital capacity (FVC) is the amount of air that can be forcibly exhaled from the lungs after taking a slow deep breath. This test may help distinguish obstructive lung diseases, such as asthma and COPD, from restrictive lung diseases, such as pulmonary fibrosis and sarcoidosis.
FVC can also help doctors assess the progression of lung disease and evaluate the effectiveness of treatment. An abnormal FVC value may be chronic, but sometimes the problem is reversible and the FVC can be corrected.