Spirometry - What is it?

November 5, 2021
IN
Asthma
BY
Andrew Gallagher
4 Min Read

Spirometry is a test to assess how well your lungs are functioning by testing how much air you exhale and how fast you can exhale it. However, many do not know the benefits available from regularly doing lung function tests.

Most people will remember doing their spirometry test to diagnose their asthma or COPD (if you are diagnosed with asthma/COPD and have never done a spirometry test, you should ask your doctor about it). Spirometry also can be used to monitor lung function and check whether a treatment for a chronic lung condition is helping you breathe better.

Related article: COPD - What is it?

Spirometry is a low risk test and rarely causes any issues. But because the test requires some exertion, it isn't performed if you've had a recent heart attack or some other heart condition. Rarely, the test triggers severe breathing problems.

Thanks to modern technology, handheld spirometers are available and are recommended by doctors to allow for better condition management.

How is a Spirometry Test Completed?

If completed in a doctors office, the tester will generally explain how to complete the test and you may be asked to do some practice tests first. When ready:

  • Inhale fully, so lungs are completely full of air
  • Close your lips tightly around the mouthpiece
  • Exhale as quickly and forcefully as you can, ensuring you completely empty your lungs.

Usually you will be asked to repeat this 3 times to ensure a reliable result. Your doctor may ask you to repeat the test after taking inhaled bronchodilator medicine, this can show you respond to the medicine.

Why Should I do a Regular Spirometry Test?

Lung tests can tell doctors virtually everything they need to know about your lung health. They can diagnose your condition, monitor your symptoms, and determine courses of action. By completing regular spirometry tests you can plot your condition and use this data to your advantage.

Benefits

If you are only doing 1 lung function test every year when you go for a check up, this is only giving you and your doctor a snapshot of your lungs on that day. By regularly testing you will be building a full picture of your lung health, allowing for better decision making with your condition.

Related article: Peak Flow Meter vs Spirometer

See the Warning Signs of an Exacerbation

Your lung function may decrease before you notice any signs or symptoms, this can alert you to an oncoming attack and then take your medication as instructed. If you act quickly you are less likely to have a severe attack and you will not require as much medication to control exacerbation.

Find out Asthma Triggers

By consistently monitoring your lung function you will be able to correlate symptoms with decline in lung function and will give you a better understanding of your triggers. Avoiding triggers will reduce exacerbation and flare ups.

Breath Measurement and Control

Spirometry is a great opportunity to measure your breath control. This can be seriously beneficial if you play sports or are actively trying to improve your breath control.

What is Filter?

Filter is an app and handheld device that monitors key biometrics (lung function, blood oxygen, heart rate, core body temperature), medication and symptoms, to analyse and predict your condition and give you insight into it.

We said earlier that normal lung tests can tell your doctor everything about your lungs and how they are functioning, Filter gives the patient that information in a digest-able format allowing you to take control over your condition and live your life!

You can also share your data with your care team including your healthcare professional.

We are still in the beta phase of Filter but are on boarding users regularly - click here to request access to the beta.

Sources: Mayo clinic, NHS, Asthma.org