Children exposed to the extremes of their environment tend to suffer from a cough and cold repeatedly. Most times, such a bug is self-limiting and gets better on its own accord, but occasionally it continues to persist and becomes a chronic problem for you and your little one. This cough and cold could be a minor viral infection, an allergic reaction, or it could be an infection of the lungs, but this needs spirometer readings for a diagnosis.
Infections of the nose or throat get better on their own, but the ones that affect the windpipe or lungs tend to linger on much longer, troubling your kid every now. Any slight weather change could alter or irritate infections. Hence, it is essential to get a definite diagnosis, as to whether the problem lies in the lungs and windpipe or the upper respiratory tract. In severe cases of a chronic cough, a pulmonary function test or lung function test might be ordered by your doctor. The most straightforward lung function test readings to obtain in cooperative children are spirometer readings, that can guide towards the diagnosis and help chalk out a treatment plan.
What is a spirometer?
A spirometer is a small handheld device that measures the amount of air taken in and out while breathing. Spirometry is the procedure that uses the spirometer to obtain details about the lungs functioning and enables doctors to diagnose an underlying condition.
Spirometer readings are available within just 10-15 minutes. The procedure involves making your kid sit on a chair, followed by placing a mask covering the mouth. The child is then asked to breathe through the mouthpiece on the spirometer for a few seconds. The procedure is repeated at least three times to get consistent readings. Highest values near normal range are taken as the final result.
How is a reading evaluated?
Spirometer readings vary from child to child. The readings are based on their age, built, height, race, etc. Your pediatrician has a list of the normal values expected (predicted value) for the child’s age before the test is performed. After performing the test, the readings obtained are compared with predicted values. This is why a spirometer is vital in any medical practice, as it can help diagnose patients health problems. If obtained values are 80 % or more in proximity to the predicted scores, the lung function is considered as normal.
What does it mean if my child has an abnormal reading?
Abnormal readings usually indicate any of the following problems:
- Airway obstruction
- Lung disease
- Chest wall disease
- Chest muscle disease
- Diffusion issues (poor transfer of oxygen from the inspired air to the blood)
Why is spirometry better over other tests?
There are several reasons why a spirometry procedure is preferred over other tests
- It is non-invasive
- The system is simple, quick and easy to perform
- It does not involve exposure to radiation
- The results are obtained instantly
Should I give my child medicine before performing the test?
It is better not to give any medication or to consult your pediatrician regarding intake of medicines before tests, as some medicine might act as an airway dilator. This means that they reduce the resistance of windpipe and allow easy movement of air. This can lead to false readings on respiratory therapy devices and show that there is no abnormality when in reality there is one.
Spirometer Readings and their Benefits
Spirometry is one of the best ways to determine the cause of respiratory troubles in children; and in that spirometer readings are the simplest of all, easy to perform and give results quickly. Thus, spirometry is a preferred choice of investigation in pediatrics.