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Testing, Testing 123: Phlebotomy Basics

When my mother underwent chemotherapy, we spent a lot of time visiting the phlebotomy lab for blood testing. I was always impressed by how easily the phlebotomist was able to find and puncture a vein to draw blood on the first try. I knew there had to be a method to it, and was astounded by how effortless and painless they made the process. It led me to research a lot about blood tests, from drawing to the actual screening. I've created this site to share what I've learned in the hopes of teaching others. The more you understand, the more control you can have over your own health care.

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Testing, Testing 123: Phlebotomy Basics

What To Expect When Going In For Your Pulmonary Function Test

by Francisco Arnold

If you suspect that you might have asthma, emphysema, COPD, or another respiratory disorder, your doctor might send you in to a testing center for pulmonary function testing. This procedure can indicate how well your lungs work, giving your doctor more direction when it come to diagnosing your condition. But what should you expect from the process? Here's a look.

Expect to stop your medications.

Has your doctor put you on any medications as a way to regulate your symptoms until your condition is fully diagnosed? If so, you may be asked to stop taking these medications for a day or two prior to your pulmonary function test. This will enable your doctor to see how your lungs function without the help of certain medications. If being off your meds for this time will be tough, plan a restful day during which you don't have to do much. Make sure your home humidity is low to minimize irritation.

Expect to breathe a lot.

The primary test administered will probably be a spirometry test. This is a simple test from your standpoint. You'll sit in front of a machine with a special mouthpiece fitted over your face, and when the technician tells you to do so, you will breathe into the machine. The machine will measure how much air your lungs take in and expel, and also how forcefully they do so. This should not be painful or difficult. You may need to repeat your breathing a few times with a break in between to ensure the accuracy of the measurement.

Expect to breathe in oxygen. 

An additional test that might be performed, depending on what symptoms you're suffering from, is called a diffusion capacity test. To conduct this test, the technician may have you inhale oxygen or carbon dioxide. You will then breathe out, and the machine will measure how much oxygen or carbon dioxide you breathe out. This will measure your lungs' capacity to exchange these two gasses, which is ultimately their job. 

Expect safety.

These tests are not unsafe, and they should not cause you any harm or pain. If your doctor felt that your heart or respiratory system was not up for the tests, they would not have recommended them. That being said, your testing techs should be happy to discuss any concerns you have before the procedure. 

Being sent for pulmonary function testing can be a bit stressful, but the actual tests are really simple and painless. Take a deep breath -- it will be over soon. 

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