Lung function tests are generally the first course of action for a doctor when determining if a patient has lung problems such as COPD or asthma. Lung function tests can determine a variety of things—how much air you can hold in your lungs, how quickly you can exhale and inhale, and how efficiently your lungs move oxygen and carbon dioxide in and out of your bloodstream. Let’s look at some of the more common lung function tests:

Spirometry is the most common lung function test. For this test, you breathe into a mouthpiece that is attached to a spirometer which records how much and how quickly you can move air out of your lungs. Spirometry can measure a vast amount of lung function values to help diagnose lung problems.

Gas diffusion tests evaluate how well gases are absorbed into the blood stream from the lungs. The test does this by measuring the amount of oxygen and other gases that cross the air sacs of the lungs per minute.

Inhalation challenge tests are done to help determine what is causing asthma or wheezing. To take the test, the substance that may be causing the wheezing or asthma is inhaled in aerosol mist form through a nebulizer. Spirometry readings are taken before, during and after inhaling the substance to determine its impact on lung function.

Exercise stress tests are used to see how exercise effects lung function. Spirometry is undergone before and after testing.

There are many other tests that doctors can perform to determine lung issues, these are just the more common ones. Speak with your doctor today if you’re having difficulty breathing or are concerned you may have asthma or COPD.