How Do You Understand Your Breathing Test Results?


Quick Answer

The most common breathing test is a spirometry, and it measures how much air a person is able to exhale in one second and overall, according to Healthline. These measurements are known as the FEV1 and the FVC, and the test calculates a percentage from the equation (FEV1/FVC). This percentage represents a lung disorder's presence and progression.

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Full Answer

Diagnosing and managing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is the most common use of a spirometry test, reports Healthline. Doctors recommend this test when patients complain of trouble breathing or excessive coughing. There are four stages of COPD: stage I is mild, stage II is moderate and stage III is severe, with an FEV1 between 30 and 49 percent of normal values. Stage IV is very severe, and it is possible for chronic respiratory failure to be present at this stage. Diminishing quality of life is also present in stage IV.

Another value a spirometry test measures is the maximum voluntary ventilation, which measures the amount of air a person breathes in and out within a minute, explains WebMD. The total lung capacity measures the amount of air in the lungs after inhaling, and the residual volume measures the amount of air in the lungs after exhaling.

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