Modern advancements have made living with asthma more manageable. One of these advancements is the portable spirometer. With a portable spirometer, even children can monitor their lung function at home, empowering them to take control of their own health.
What is a Handheld Spirometer?
Spirometry is an all-encompassing term that refers to breathing and lung function tests. Typically, the patient performs these tests by inhaling, exhaling, and measuring the total volume of air their lungs hold. Lung function tests also measure how quickly a pair of lungs can release the air they hold.
Since spirometry is the test, a spirometer is the means of administering the test. A handheld spirometer is a method of testing your own lungs at home without the hassle of a doctor’s visit. Some portable spirometry devices function on their own, while others pair with a smartphone app to supply you with extra information.
How Do Doctors Use Information from Lung Tests?
Lung tests tell doctors virtually everything they need to know about your breathing. They use lung tests to diagnose your condition, monitor your symptoms, and determine courses of action. By taking regular spirometry tests, you build an arsenal of data that can be used to help you down the line.
Consider the following questions to help you understand more about how lung tests are performed and how their information is utilized.
1. How is a pulmonary function test performed?
A pulmonary function test performs a complete evaluation of the respiratory system. Typically, a tube attaches to the portable device that you place in your mouth. After inhaling deeply, you exhale quickly and forcefully into the tube while the device performs the necessary measurements. If you are at a doctor’s office, you will likely have to take the test several times in a row. It isn’t painful, but it can leave you feeling lightheaded.
2. How do you use a spirometer for breathing exercises?
Numbers and an arrow label a traditional spirometer. Based on your age/height/weight, etc. you should reach a certain number (ask your doctor for help in determining this). To exercise your lungs, place your lips over the tube and breathe steadily, matching your breaths with the correct number. Repeat multiple times over the course of an hour. To use the Aluna spirometer, you place your mouth on the breathing tube and exhale as hard and as long as your lungs allow until all air exits your lungs. It is not necessary to do this multiple times in a row, which saves you from extra lightheadedness or dizziness!
How Accurate Are the Flow Measurements?
Like anything, measurement accuracy varies from product to product and company to company. For the most part, portable spirometry devices are accurate and safe to use at home. Not only do they help you track your own symptoms, they provide a valuable resource for your personal doctor.
Benefits of a Portable Spirometry Device
So, why invest in a portable spirometry device? What makes at-home spirometry more beneficial than taking a spirometry test at your doctor’s office? The “portable” aspect of a spirometer actually provides several advantages, including these.
1. Consistent Data Monitoring
If you limit your lung tests to in-office only, it makes it difficult to get a consistent read on your lung data. By investing in a portable device, you can log important information on a regular basis, which helps both you and your doctor.
2. Fewer Doctor Visits
Squeezing in visits to the doctor is always difficult, but especially as COVID cases make everything more complicated. Cut back on doctor visits by taking your own spirometry tests and sharing data with your doctor remotely.
3. Track Breath Control
Because spirometry measures your total lung capacity, spirometry provides a great opportunity to monitor your breath control and support. Particularly if you play sports or are actively trying to improve breath control through lung exercises, spirometry is a great tool.
4. Prevent Daily Triggers
Consistent spirometry helps you gain a better understanding of what triggers your respiratory attacks. With this information, you can avoid triggers and reduce flare-ups.
With the aid of modern technology, you can take a spirometry test at home. Invest in your portable spirometer and gain better control over your lung health.
What is a Spirometry Test?
Spirometry tests play a large role in controlling and maintaining asthma. Whether mild or severe, it is important that your lung function is being tested regularly so that your breathing can be monitored. Proper asthma control keeps dangerous developments at bay and helps you and your doctor stay informed.
What Does a Spirometry Test Measure?
A spirometry test examines the function of your lungs by measuring both how much air you can inhale and how much you can exhale. It also measures how quickly you draw the air in. The purpose of this type of testing is to see if you are drawing in the correct amount of air based on your age, height, size, etc. If you aren’t, the doctor has to take steps to understand why.
When Will Your Doctor Order a Spirometry Test?
A spirometry exam will be given before you are diagnosed with asthma to determine if asthma is really the problem. Sometimes, breathing problems can be attributed to allergies or other ailments.
If you are diagnosed with asthma, it will also be given periodically for an indefinite amount of time to track your symptoms and monitor your breathing. Additionally, a doctor might order a spirometry exam before surgery or after a sudden surge of poor respiratory symptoms.
How is a Spirometry Test Taken?
To take the test, you will breathe through a tube that hooks into a spirometry machine at the doctor’s office. The doctor will simply have you take a deep breath and then exhale as hard and as quickly as you can. You will probably do this several times in a row to ensure that the results are accurate. Depending on the doctor, you may take some medication in-between “exam rounds” to see how it impacts your test results.
Overall, it will probably only take 10-15 minutes. The test isn’t exhausting, but you may feel a little lightheaded afterward from all the inhaling and exhaling.
Terms to keep in mind include the following:
1. FVC (forced vital capacity)
This is essentially your lung capacity – the amount of air your lungs can hold. This falls under the “inhalation” portion of the spirometry exam.
2. FEV1 (forced expiratory volume)
This is the amount of air you can release in a single second. Generally speaking, the higher the amount of air you can release, the healthier your lungs are. Low FEV ratings indicate an inflamed airway.
Benefits of Taking a Spirometry Test
Now that you know what a spirometry test is, why should you take one? Spirometry provides numerous benefits for those with chronic lung conditions. Experience the following advantages when you take regular spirometry tests.
1. Notice changes in your lung health.
Since there is currently no cure for chronic lung diseases, it is extremely important that you proactively look for changes in your lung health. Whether positive or negative, consistently measuring your lung capacity allows you to see changes as they occur. If you wait until your next doctor’s visit to see whether your lung capacity has increased, decreased, or remained stationary, you might miss something important.
Stay on top of your lung health by taking spirometry tests every day to every other day. It only takes a moment, and it can make a huge difference.
2. Develop an action plan with the help of your doctor.
Spirometry provides the perfect avenue for you and your physician to get on the same page. Sharing your scores with your doctor provides insight regarding your overall condition. You and your doctor can use your scores to develop a “lung health action plan,” which details the best course of action for maintaining your health.
3. Prevent triggers and flare-ups with important information.
Did you know that taking spirometry tests can help you prevent flare-ups? While spirometry is not a cure in and of itself, it does provide some context for potential triggers. For instance, if you are exposed to a new allergen, then take a lung test and discover a decrease in your lung capacity, chances are high that the allergen triggered a respiratory problem. By measuring your lung capacity regularly, you can collect enough data to effectively avoid triggers and cut down on symptoms.
4. Empower yourself against your lung condition.
Many people with chronic diseases see no hope of getting better, so they simply give up. It is important to shift your mindset. Even if you cannot cure your lung condition, you can improve it. Stay encouraged and empowered against your chronic disease by gaining the upper hand. Knowing exactly how your lung condition affects your body allows you to take it head-on, fighting to improve your situation.