What are Pulmonary Function Tests, and How are They Conducted?

If you are experiencing symptoms of lung problems, there is a good chance you need a Pulmonary Function Test. This test, also referred to as a PFT, is a noninvasive evaluation that shows how well your lungs are working. Another major reason why you might get a PFT is to analyze how well your lungs are working before you have surgery. Now that you know what the test is, let’s dig deeper into how it works.



A PFT usually involves the use of spirometry, which is a test used by doctors to see how well your lungs are functioning. Within spirometry, there is a tool called a spirometer, one of the most common pulmonary health tools. This small device measures the amount of air you breathe in and out, and also your breathing rate. In addition to that, incentive spirometers help to exercise your lungs and clear out germs. Your spirometry procedure will consist of you being seated, taking deep breaths, and holding your breath, and will take about 15 minutes.




A lung plethysmography test is another PFT that is used for measuring how much air you can hold in your lungs. In this procedure, you sit or stand in a small, airtight chamber, and do some breathing exercises. A few of the measurements the doctor will be looking for are how much air is left in your lungs when you breathe out normally, and how much air is left when you breathe out as much as you can. These tests help to evaluate people with lung disease as spirometry does, but lung plethysmography tests are more accurate.


Risks of Pulmonary Function Tests

Since PFTs are noninvasive, they are considered a low-risk assessment. Some minor side effects of testing could include:

  • Dizziness
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • More

There is extensive information about PFT tests if you are still unsure if the test is safe for you. While you are doing your research, you should also look at how to prepare for a PFT.


Who Needs A PFT?

People who need a PFT experience symptoms of lung problems. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Allergies
  • Airway restriction
  • Respiratory issues
  • More


Talk to Your Doctor

PFTs have minimal risks and discomfort but provide extremely valuable information. If you feel like you may need a Pulmonary Function Test to address symptoms of lung problems, be sure to talk to your doctor right away about your symptoms.