Doctors use spirometry results to diagnose lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis and bronchitis, reports Mayo Clinic. They also use periodic results to assess how effectively medications and other treatments are keeping the conditions under control. Health professionals use spirometry in workplace surveillance programs to assess respiratory health standards, states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Spirometry helps in the detection, staging, tracking and treatment of a condition such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, explains Healthline. COPD symptoms range from mild in stage 1 to life threatening in stage 4, and doctors monitor spirometry readings to keep informed of the progression of the disease. Spirometry allows doctors to personalize treatment such as exercise and medication dosages and make needed adjustments. Test results also help doctors make decisions about the suitability of rehabilitation programs and surgery.
Using spirometry, doctors or technicians measure the amount of air patients breathe in and how forcefully and quickly they blow it out, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Peak expiratory flow rate measures how fast patients can force air out of their lungs, and forced expiratory volume, or FEV1, measures the amount of air patients can expire in a second. Doctors may also use a medication to open up the lungs and assess the medication's effect on the test results.