What is Spirometry?
Spirometry measures how much air a person can breathe-in and breathe out, and how fast the air is blown out of the lungs. These measurements are compared to a chart (much like a growth chart) that lists typical results for children and adults of the same age, height and sex.
Spirometry can detect even minor changes in the lungs, which help to diagnose many conditions such as reactive airway disease, asthma, emphysema, cystic fibrosis etc. It can also help to manage some of these problems after diagnosis. Many patients with environmental allergies have undetected airway inflammation, and this test will help to identify any airway constriction.
Adults and children over the age of 5 can understand and perform adequately to obtain acceptable results in the office spirometry test. No preparation is required prior to the testing, other than being able to breathe deeply without restriction. For this test, you can continue the use of any medications including inhalers, if necessary.
What can I expect?
The test is usually done in 10 to 15 minutes and is not painful or tedious. You will be asked to put your lips around a plastic tube that connects to a computer and blowout air from your chest. When they tell you to start, take a deep big breath sucking in as much air as you can, and then blow out, into the plastic tube, long and hard, until you breathe out all the air. You will repeat these steps at least 3 times to get accurate scores. You can take a few practice breaths before the test begins, so you know what it feels like.