08 Mar 24

5 benefits of spirometry in diagnosing respiratory diseases

Spirometry is one of the most widely used lung function tests: it is easy to perform, non-invasive and can provide an accurate reading of a patient’s lung function. Because of these reasons, the test can be a valuable diagnostic tool in assessing and managing pulmonary conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

In this article, we will explore the main benefits of spirometry in diagnosing respiratory diseases.

  1. How spirometry works

During a spirometry test, a patient will be asked to take a deep breath and then exhale as quickly as possible into a device called a spirometer, in order to measure several parameters related to lung volume and airflow. Some of these parameters include:

  • Forced Vital Capacity (FVC), i.e., the maximum amount of air a person can breathe out as quickly as possible.
  • Forced Expiratory Volume in One Second (FEV1): i.e., the volume of air exhaled in the first second during FVC measurement.
  • FEV1/FVC Ratio.
  • Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF): i.e., the maximum speed of airflow during forced expiration.
  • Forced Expiratory Flow (FEF): i.e., the flow of air during different phases of the FVC maneuver.

The analysis and comparison of the parameters listed above can provide the basis for the diagnosis of several respiratory conditions.

  1. 5 benefits of Spirometry in diagnosing respiratory diseases

Besides being accurate, easy to run and well tolerated by most patients, there are further benefits in the use of spirometry in diagnosing respiratory diseases.

  1. Spirometry can help with early detection and diagnosis

As we explored in a previous article, common parameters measured in spirometry can be predictive of airflow obstruction several years in advance, as the test can detect lung function abnormalities even before clinical symptoms arise. This allows physicians to identify pulmonary conditions in their early stages and implement effective healthcare strategies.

  1. It provides an objective measurement of lung function and disease severity

They say data speak for themselves. This is also true with spirometry: parameters such as FVC, FEV1 and their ratio provide quantitative measurements of lung function that can be used for an objective evaluation of a person's pulmonary health. This is crucial to assess the severity of a respiratory disease and design an adequate treatment plan.

  1. Spirometry is a valuable tool for differential diagnosis

Although they may share symptoms like shortness of breath, wheezing, cough or chest pain, not all lung diseases are the same. Spirometry aids in distinguishing between different respiratory conditions, so that healthcare professionals can identify whether the patient is suffering from obstructive or restrictive lung diseases.

  1. Spirometry is a tool for monitoring progress and treatment effectiveness

Another advantage of spirometry is that its usefulness does not end with diagnosis. Spirometry is also a valuable tool to evaluate the efficacy of medication and respiratory treatments, as well as to monitor a patient’s progress. Regular measurements allow physicians and healthcare professionals to track changes in lung function and adjust treatment plans as needed.

  1. It enables better patient education

Last but not least, spirometry provides an opportunity for healthcare professionals to educate patients about their lung function and the importance of following treatment plans. This aspect should not be underestimated, as it gives patients a feeling of control over their well-being, motivating them to be consistent and actively participate in managing their respiratory health.

Learn more about spirometry: check out our dedicated article.

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