What is it for?
Spirometry is a test to measure the flow of air through the airways, or bronchi (the tubes that transport air to the lungs), by comparing the patient’s results with the results obtained from healthy individuals of the same age and height.
It may be indicated to investigate respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath and wheezing); it may also be indicated in a diagnosis and assessment of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchitis caused by smoking, functional disability, post-operative assessments and in the diagnosis of occupational respiratory diseases.
Is any preparation required?
– Before the test, you should rest for at least 5 minutes. During this time, you will answer a few questions about your respiratory symptoms and your medical history.
– You do not need to fast, but you should avoid drinking coffee, tea or alcoholic beverages in the 6 hours before the test, as they could affect your results.
– In some cases you must stop using your medicines, primarily inhaled medicines. Short-acting bronchodilators (like Aerolin, Berotec or Atrovent) should be discontinued 4 hours before your test and long-acting bronchodilators (such as medicines containing formoterol or salmeterol) should be discontinued 12 hours beforehand. If you are using an ultra-long-acting bronchodilator (that is, used only once a day (such as Spiriva)), you should stop using it 24 hours before the test.
– Carry on using your medications if so instructed by your respiratory doctor, who may want to check how your lungs are doing during your treatment.
– Please do not smoke at least 2 hours prior to the test. If you are suffering from a respiratory illness such as a cold or the flu, the test should be postponed until you feel better.
The following precautions must be taken:
• 24 hours before the test, you must stop using the following medications: Serevent, Oxis, Foradil, Fluir, Seretide, Forasec, Symbicort, Bamifix, Teolong, Teophyl, theophylline and Talofilina.
• 12 hours before the test, you must not use these medications: Atrovent, Combivent, Accolate and Singulair.
• 6 hours before the test, you must not use these medications: Berotec, Aerolin, salbutamol, Aero-Jet, Bricanyl, Aerotide and Clenil Compositum.
• Avoid drinking coffee and beverages that contain caffeine before the test.
• Except for beta-blockers, other medications may be used as usual, unless otherwise instructed by a doctor. At the doctor’s discretion, the medications listed above may be used to assess their effects on lung function.
• If any respiratory problems occur after you stop using any medicine, you should start using it at the previous dosage and frequency and contact the doctor in charge of the test.
• When the test is performed, tell the staff about all the medicines you are taking, including natural remedies.
How is it done?
The test is performed by a cardiorespiratory technician. You must first state your height and weight, as this information is essential to calculate ‘normal’ values for each patient.
The test is done by breathing into an instrument called a spirometer, which records the quantity and speed of the inhaled and exhaled air.
This test is performed using the following procedure: the patient places his or her lips around the mouthpiece on the device, completely fills the lungs with air and then vigorously exhales until the lungs are emptied.
An exam report is then prepared.