What does a spirometry test entail and how can workers prepare for it?
A spirometry test is a test that measures lung capacity, or the volume of air that an individual can intake into the lungs, as well as air flow. So, what we're checking with a spirometry test is a person's lung capacity as well as how easily they can move air into and out of their lungs.
The technician will provide the person being tested full instructions on how to complete the test. They are provided with the spirometry machine and coached through how to use it. They are instructed to take a deep breath in and fill their lungs as much as they possibly can. Once their lungs are full, they place the mouthpiece into their mouths to create a nice tight seal. Then, they are asked to forcefully exhale until the machine gives out a long beep, which signals that their lungs are empty and no more air is flowing.
Typically, a technician will have the subject perform at least three maneuvers. Then, the spirometry machine averages the results by looking for two maneuvers that were very similar and averaging those. The machine then compares those results to predicted lung capacities for that individual based on their age, height, ethnicity and gender, delivering a verdict as to whether the subject's lung function is normal or not.
In terms of preparing to come in and take the test, we don't recommend that people eat a heavy meal within one hour prior to performing the test. It's also a good idea if they’re a smoker to not smoke for one hour prior to the test, and also not to do any type of vigorous intensity exercise within one hour prior.
More Q&As from our experts
- Why does my employer want me to take a spirometry test?
- Will being a smoker affect spirometry test results?
- What if I get dizzy or feel like I will pass out during spirometry testing?
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