Lung function tests measure how much air your child's lungs hold and how quickly your child's lungs can move the air in and out. Spirometry is often the first lung function test that is done. Your child may also have other tests. These tests include gas diffusion tests, body plethysmography, inhalation challenge tests, and exercise stress tests. Your doctor will explain which tests your child needs.
These tests check how well your child's lungs work. They may also be called pulmonary function tests, or PFTs.
Doctors use lung function tests to find the cause of breathing problems. These tests are used to diagnose lung diseases like asthma. Your child may have lung function tests before he or she has surgery. Or your doctor may use these tests to find out how well treatment for a lung problem is working.
What happens during the test depends on the type of test your child has. A respiratory therapist or technician will do the lung function tests.
For most tests, your child will wear a nose clip. This is to make sure that no air passes in or out of your child's nose during the test. Your child then breathes into a mouthpiece attached to a recording device.
The therapist may urge your child to breathe deeply during some of the tests to get the best results.
Your child may have a blood test to check oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood before, during, or after the lung function tests.
The testing may take from 5 to 30 minutes. This depends on how many tests your child has.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
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Current as of: March 25, 2017
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
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