Tidal Volume

Last Updated: April 22, 2019

Definition - What does Tidal Volume mean?

Tidal volume is the capacity of air exhaled and inhaled during normal respiration cycles or when individuals are at rest. The lungs operate as a buffer in regulating oxygen intake in proportion to carbon dioxide expulsion to facilitate metabolic functions for all major organs in the body. Tidal volume is an important measure to help establish whether the respiration rate, according to oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange, coincides with the benchmark standard of 500 milliliters (ml) of air per breath.

WorkplaceTesting explains Tidal Volume

Tidal volume can serve as a primary metric in helping determine the existence of suspect pathological conditions including asthma, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and emphysema. The tissue lining of the lungs is elastic, allowing for easy contraction and expansion between regular breaths, but biomechanical, environmental and occupational factors can influence tidal volume in different ways. For instance, cardiorespiratory exercise often involves strenuous exertion that requires maximal oxygen uptake to compensate for the accumulated byproduct carbon dioxide in the lungs, regulating gas exchange, or tidal volume between breaths.

The workplace poses environmental and occupational health hazards that carry the risk of developing into chronic lung diseases due to overexposure with time. For instance, construction, mining, and healthcare industries expose employees to noxious contaminants and/or invading antigens such as dust, chemical fumes, solvent compounds, toxic vapors, and viral agents (i.e. influenza). Spirometry is a clinical testing method that incorporates tidal volume as a metrical subunit in helping to analyze and identify breathing pattern deviations to support a case of potential lung disease.

Patient symptoms vary in degree and extent based on detrimental health conditions relating to distinct industries and occupations. Depending on the severity, individuals may undergo pulmonary rehabilitation prescribed by a doctor to enhance lung capacity performance. Routine checkups may be required to monitor critical physiological elements such as tidal volume to ensure the rate of breathing is normalized.

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