Catch Your Breath Again at the Culbertson Specialty Clinic
Breathing is one of the most fundamental elements of human life and a bodily function many take for granted, seemingly almost automatic. But for many, illnesses and conditions of the respiratory system can transform the simple act of breathing into a struggle. According to the American Lung Association (ALA), more than 34 million Americans live with a chronic lung illness like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). If you’re one of millions fighting just to take a deep breath, pulmonary function testing at the Culbertson Specialty Clinic can help diagnose your condition and determine the next steps.
Who Is Eligible for Pulmonary Function Testing?
Common symptoms that may merit a pulmonary function test include:
- Chronic or excessive coughing
- Pain, pressure, or tightness in chest
- Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
Not all patients will undergo every form of pulmonary function testing. “If your provider orders a full PFT, then you would go through all three. However, sometimes physicians order one specific test to monitor different conditions,” said Culbertson Respiratory Therapist Niki Wise. Testing is usually completed within an hour. Once testing is completed, Wise said, results are sent to a pulmonologist for interpretation, then forwarded to your provider to discuss treatment plans and next steps with you.
Types of Pulmonary Function Testing
The pulmonary function testing process consists of three noninvasive tests — spirometry, diffusion capacity testing, and lung volume testing — each measuring how well the lungs are functioning. “These tests can provide your physician with information on how well your lungs are working,” Wise said. “Based on your symptoms, your provider would recommend pulmonary function testing to develop a treatment plan or monitor your progress.”
- Spirometry, the most common form of pulmonary function testing, measures how much air you can breathe in and out, as well as how fast the lungs can exhale. After placing a clip on your nose, your physician will ask you to blow as hard and fast as possible into a plastic mouthpiece connected to a spirometry machine.
- Lung diffusion testing (DLCO) uses a mixture of gases to determine how efficiently blood and carbon dioxide move between the lungs and blood. During this test, you’ll be asked to breathe in a mixture of nitrogen and oxygen, a small amount of carbon monoxide — not enough to hurt you — and a tracer gas. As you exhale, the amount of carbon monoxide absorbed is measured.
- Lung volume testing is designed to measure the amount of air your lungs can take in. Like spirometry, you’ll be asked to wear a nose clip and breathe in and out through a plastic mouthpiece. Testing equipment attached to the mouthpiece will measure how much air is being inhaled and exhaled, giving your provider a better understanding of your lungs’ volume.
Breathe easy again. Contact your primary care provider about your pulmonary function. To schedule an appointment, call the Culbertson Specialty Clinics at (217) 322-4321, ext. 5271.