Pulmonary function tests, or PFTs, have become an extremely important part of the lung healthcare field. They provide healthcare workers with detailed information without the need for invasive surgery so they can make an educated treatment plan for their patients. We understand that PFTs are complex and can be confusing at times, so this blog includes frequently asked questions to help you feel prepared.
Why is the test performed?
Pulmonary function tests are performed to help your doctor assess the health of your lungs. These tests can lead to proper diagnosis and get you on track to starting a treatment plan and medications. They’re noninvasive procedures that provide you with the information you need without needing surgery to figure it out.
What does a PFT measure?
To get more specific, pulmonary function tests measure the amount of air you inhale and exhale, your total lung capacity and other breathing abilities. The measurements vary depending on each person so your results will be compared with others your age or to earlier measurements if you’ve had a PFT done before.
How can I prepare for the test?
When it comes to preparation, there’s not much you need to do. Unlike surgery, you can eat and drink before the test, just as long as it’s not a heavy meal right beforehand. Your doctor will give you more precise instructions on what you should and should not do prior to testing, such as avoiding smoking or temporarily stopping medication.
What should I expect during testing?
- First, they’ll have you loosen your tight clothing and remove your jewelry.
- Take a trip to the restroom to empty your bladder beforehand.
- You’ll most likely receive a nose clip to make sure you’re only breathing out of your mouth.
- You’ll sit in a clear box that looks like a telephone booth.
- Once given a sterile mouthpiece, you’ll be asked to perform various breathing exercises depending on your specific testing.
Dos and Don’ts
- DO bring your Alberta Health Card
- DON’T smoke the day of your test
- DO arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment time if possible
- DON’T consume caffeine before testing
- DO bring a list of your current respiratory medications
- DON’T wear strong perfumes or deodorants
- DO bring your oxygen concentrator with you if you use one
How can I schedule a PFT?
Pulmonary function tests are prescribed by your doctor, so if you think this testing would be beneficial to you, speak to your healthcare provider to get approval.
What do I do next?
Once your pulmonary function test is complete, the only thing you need to worry about is hearing back about the results. Otherwise, unless you receive further instruction from your doctor, you can continue with your normal diet and medication post-testing.
How long do I have to wait for the results?
It usually only takes between 48 and 72 hours after testing to receive results, and as soon as your doctor knows they will give you a call.
If you have more questions or just want to learn more about what a pulmonary function test entails, feel free to contact us. We’re happy to share our knowledge and make you as comfortable as possible on test day.