Pulmonary Function Tests

Posted September 30, 2022 by Anusha ‐ 2 min read

Pulmonary function tests (PFTs) are lung tests. They show how well your lungs work. They’re noninvasive, which means that the doctor doesn’t cut you or put any tools inside your body.

Why Are Pulmonary Function Tests Done?

Testing your lungs can help doctors diagnose lung diseases such as:

  • Asthma

  • Allergies

  • Chronic bronchitis

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

  • Damaged or scarred lung tissue

  • Disease caused by breathing in asbestos fibers

  • Sarcoidosis, a collection of inflammatory cells around organs

  • Lung cancer

  • Infections

  • Thickened, stretched, or enlarged airways

  • Thickening or hardening of your connective tissues (scleroderma)

  • Weakness of the muscles in the wall of the chest

How to Prepare for Pulmonary Function Tests

Your doctor will explain the test and what you can expect. Ask them any questions you may have.

They may also tell you to wear loose clothing and comfortable shoes.

For the best results:

  • Take your medications before your test unless your doctor tells you not to.

  • Don’t smoke before the test, ask your doctor how long before the test you should stop.

  • If you use a short-acting inhaler, try not to use it for 6 to 8 hours before the test.

  • If you have to use it, let your doctor know before the test.

  • Don’t drink alcohol at least 4 hours before the test.

  • Don’t eat a large meal at least 2 hours before the test.

  • Don’t do any hard exercise at least 30 minutes before the test.

Pulmonary Function Test Results

Most tests take 15 to 30 minutes. You may be tired afterward. Your medical team will give you time to rest.

Then, you can go back to your normal activities.

Some things can affect how accurate your results are. They include:

  • How well you follow the medical team’s directions

  • Medicines that affect your airways

  • Pain medicines

  • Pregnancy

  • Stomach bloating

  • Severe fatigue

Pulmonary Function Test Risks

Pulmonary function tests are usually safe. Risks include:

  • Dizziness

  • Shortness of breath

  • Coughing

  • An asthma attack

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