Breathing tests, otherwise known as lung function testing, are measures of lung capacity and the flow of air, as well as the effectiveness of air getting into the bloodstream. These tests are performed by trained scientists using specialised equipment. Lung function testing is far superior to just basic peak flow measurements.
Testing usually comprises measuring the amount of air that you can breathe out in one second, called the FEV1, and the total amount of air that you can breathe in and out, called the FVC all vital capacity. You will be seated for the test and usually wear a nose peg, so you only breathe through your mouth. You will be asked to breathe in and out quite forcefully at times, so if you have any conditions which may limit your ability to do so, please tell the scientists in advance or come prepared (such as when there is bladder weakness, hernias or recent surgery).
We usually ask you not to take your regular inhalers on the day of testing, however you can bring these along with you to use after the testing. Long acting inhalers which act for 12 or 24 hours should be stopped the night before, unless you are very uncomfortable doing this. Inhalers such as Seretide, Symbicort, Oxis, Serevent, Spiriva or Onbrez should therefore be avoided the night before testing. If your test is in the afternoon, try to avoid taking short acting sprays such as Ventolin, Asmol, Atrovent or Bricanyl on the morning of the test.
Lung function testing is offered at both Cabrini Brighton and Cabrini Malvern and generally takes 15 to 30 minutes to complete. Results are issued within 1 – 2 working days to your referring doctor. We often ask for a lung function test prior to your next visit which can be organised immediately before we see you, for convenience. Sometimes repeated lung function is taken, for example to monitor the progress of asthma or treatments for lung diseases. For those with a long standing lung problem, ongoing lung function testing is used to monitor progress, exacerbations and improvements.