THE SPIROMETRY TEST AND
WHAT IT INVOLVES.
If you see your doctor with a problem with your breathing, he may well arrange an appointment for you to have a spirometry test.
The phrase spirometry sounds formidable and scary, but the test itself is very basic and painless. It is designed to see just how much air your lungs can hold.
The day of your test:
You will be asked not to use your blue pump (if you have one) on that day before your appointment. If you find you do have to use your pump, call the Surgery and check where you stand, as another appointment may have to be made. You must take one sample of each of your pumps with you.
Where is it done?
The test can be carried out in almost any treatment or consultancy room within the practice, but is usualy carried out in a treatment room. Keep your eyes on the announcement screens to see which room you must go to.
The equipment used is simple, and comprises of a test box which connects to a computer or laptop, and has a thin mouth tube connected to the test box.
Who will do the test?
This test can be carried out by a practice nurse, clinicial assistant, specialist or doctor. It will normally be carried out by a specially trained nurse.
What will happen once you are called in?
If you are already on medication for your respiration, eg sprays, on arrival you will be asked to take 4 puffs of the spray you take to treat your bad breathing once it starts, such as Salbutamol (the blue spray). You will then be asked to return to the seating area in reception for around 20 minutes whilst the sprays take effect. Whilst you are taking the puffs of your spray, the nurse will be analysing how you use the puffer, so you can get the best out of it, and so may advise you to make changes to the way you use it.
Once the wait is over, you will be called back into the treatment room. This is where the fun starts.
Once you are seated comfortably, the nurse will explain what you need to do. Put simply, you put the tube into your mouth, and will be asked to breathe out heavily, and you will then be encouraged to keep on breathing out until you have no air left to exhale. It is not unusual for a patient to feel dizzy or groggy at the end of the breath, as the system needs to measure the total amount of air your lungs can hold, but these feelings soon pass.
Altogether you will be asked for 3 of these breaths, with a break in between. You will not be asked to do another breath until you have fully recovered from the one before. If for any reason any of your breaths has not registered correctly, you may be asked for an extra breath. There is no reason to worry if this happens, it will usually be for technical reasons.
At the end of the test.
When the test is completed, the test box will print out a full report of your test. Some test boxes will deliver the information direct to your record on the computer.
These results will be passed to the doctor who requested the test. In the event of an urgent problem your doctor will contact you (which is unusual, so don’t sit there waiting for the phone to ring), otherwise you will be given the results on your next visit to your G.P.
How long does the test take?
You will need to allow around 35 to 45 minutes to do the complete test.