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Spirometry: what it is and how to prepare

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

During a medical consultation, our doctor always performs a series of routine tests and examinations with which we are all familiar, such as the measurement of respiratory rate or blood pressure. Depending on the reason for a patient’s visit, routine tests can be extended to cover others that are not usually as common. One of these tests is spirometry, which is indicated mainly for people who have a respiratory problem.

As it is not a test that is performed so frequently, many patients do not know how to perform it properly or may have doubts regarding the guidelines they must follow before performing it, which is why in this FastlyHealarticle we will explain what you need know about spirometry: what it is and how to prepare before performing it.

What is spirometry

Spirometry is a test that allows assessing the condition of the lungs and studying the evolution of respiratory diseases in those who suffer them. Nowadays, it is considered a basic and quite fundamental test to be able to make a diagnosis of the multiple diseases that can affect the respiratory organs, making this test an important pillar of pulmonology.

The test itself measures the volume of air that flows from the lungs to the outside, thereby measuring the capacity of these organs. This air flow is captured on a graph that will be interpreted by the doctor performing the test.

When should I have a spirometry?

Spirometry is usually indicated mainly in people suffering from lung diseases , although it can also be used to evaluate the impact on the lungs of diseases that affect other systems, such as heart or kidney disease. This means that spirometry is increasingly being viewed as a routine evaluation for many different conditions.

The main conditions that may require spirometry as a diagnostic or follow-up test are the following:

  • Prolonged presence of respiratory symptoms such as dyspnea, cough , expectoration and chest pain.
  • Assessment of smoking patients over 35 years of age.
  • Assessment before the execution of intense physical activity programs.
  • Evaluation in patients who will undergo upper thoracic surgery.
  • Monitor the progress of diseases that affect the lungs
  • Assess patients with occupational exposure to substances with effects on the lungs.

When you can’t do spirometry

Depending on the presence of different conditions, spirometry may be a study that may not be recommended in certain people. These contraindications can be divided into absolute or relative.

Among the absolute contraindications are:

In the relative contraindications , the risk of doing the test should be compared with the benefit that the test result can give:

  • Children under 6 years
  • Disoriented people
  • Patients who have undergone surgery on the chest, abdomen or any part of the head and neck
  • Hypertensive crisis
  • Orofacial problems that make the test difficult.

What should I do before having a spirometry test?

Before the spirometry is performed, your doctor will explain how the test is performed and will give you all the instructions regarding what to do before it is performed . Among the most important points are the following:

  • It is recommended to wear light clothing on the day of the test and remove dental prostheses
  • Rest at least 15 minutes before doing it.
  • Avoid physical exertion and tobacco use for at least one hour before the test
  • Avoid heavy consumption of food for at least two hours before the test
  • Avoid drinking coffee, tea, alcohol, sleeping pills and the like for at least four hours before the test
  • People using medications for respiratory conditions or inhalers should inform the doctor and the doctor will make a decision as some of them can alter the test results.

How is spirometry performed?

When your doctor is preparing everything to perform the test, the first thing he will do is explain to you what the test consists of and how important it is for your collaboration to obtain correct results:

  1. You will have to sit in front of the equipment and the doctor will place a nose clip on you to avoid air escaping that could alter the results.
  2. Through the spirometer, different tests can be carried out, among which the most common is forced exhalation in which the patient must take air with the mouthpiece of the device separated from his mouth, after which he must place it in his mouth and perform a Vigorous, sustained exhalation until your doctor tells you to stop.
  3. There is another test called slow expiration , in which the patient must breathe calmly at least 3 times into the device.
  4. Sometimes, it is useful to also assess the patient’s inspiration, so he is instructed to inhale the air with the mouthpiece placed in his mouth, unlike the previous case, thus also completing an inspirometer.
  5. These tests are usually repeated 3 to 8 times , allowing enough time between them for the patient to recover. After this, the graphic products of the test will be interpreted by the doctor, who will make the diagnosis and take the necessary measures for the different cases.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Spirometry: what it is and how to prepare , we recommend that you enter our category of Medication and medical tests .

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