If you're preparing for a Pulmonary Function Test (PFT), understanding the potential outcomes can be helpful. PFTs are diagnostic tests that measure how well your lungs work. In this guide, we will discuss the common PFT abnormalities and what they might indicate about your lung health.
Low Forced Vital Capacity (FVC)
What it means: Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) measures the amount of air you can forcefully exhale after taking a deep breath. A low FVC might suggest issues with lung expansion.
Possible causes: Conditions like lung scarring (fibrosis), weak muscles, or disorders affecting the chest wall could limit your ability to take a deep breath.
Reduced FEV1/FVC Ratio
What it means: This ratio compares the air you can exhale in the first second to your total exhaled volume. A decrease might signal trouble with airflow in your lungs.
Possible causes: Lung diseases like COPD or asthma can cause narrowing of the airways, making it harder to breathe out quickly.
Decreased Diffusing Capacity (DLCO)
What it means: The Diffusing Capacity of the Lungs for Carbon Monoxide (DLCO) measures how effectively oxygen moves from your lungs into your blood.
Possible causes: Lung scarring or diseases affecting the tiny air sacs (alveoli) where gas exchange occurs may result in a decreased DLCO.
Resting Low Oxygen Levels (Hypoxemia)
What it means: Low oxygen levels in your blood while resting could indicate your lungs aren't getting enough oxygen.
Possible causes: Conditions like COPD or sleep apnea might be causing this, impacting the oxygen getting into your blood.
What it means: Both FVC and FEV1 are low, but the ratio between them is normal, suggesting restricted lung capacity.
Possible causes: Diseases like lung scarring or weak muscles could limit your lungs from fully expanding, leading to reduced airflow.
Understanding Your Results
Your PFT results will be analyzed by a healthcare professional. If you have any of these abnormalities, don't worry—this is just the first step in understanding your lung health.
Your healthcare provider will discuss your results with you. Based on the findings, they'll create a personalized plan to manage your condition. Treatments might include medications, lifestyle changes, or specific therapies to help you breathe better.
Remember, PFT abnormalities don't automatically mean a severe problem. They're indicators that guide your healthcare team in providing the best care for you.
If you're having a PFT soon, understanding what the test measures and the potential outcomes can help ease any anxiety. Trust your healthcare team to guide you through the process and support you in your journey to healthier lungs. At PulseAir Heart and Lung Centre, we provide pulmonary function testing services that can help you better understand your respiratory health. To learn more about our pulmonary function testing services, please visit our website and give us a call if you have any questions!