Breathe Easy With A PFT

Lung disease often lurks in the shadows, making detection a considerable challenge. The ability to breathe without impediment can quickly be taken for granted until a problem arises. Various disorders can lead to breathing difficulties, from asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to cystic fibrosis (CF) and lung cancer. Early diagnosis can make a significant difference, offering a head start in managing the condition. Recognizing the signs and getting a pulmonary function test (PFT) is essential.


What is a pulmonary function test?

A PFT is a non-invasive diagnostic procedure used to evaluate the functionality of the lungs. The test measures the volume and speed of inhaled and exhaled air and how efficiently the lungs deliver oxygen to the body. Results from a PFT can help diagnose various respiratory conditions and gauge the effectiveness of ongoing treatment. The following signs should prompt a person to ask a doctor if a PFT is necessary.

Unusual breathlessness and persistent cough

Shortness of breath, particularly during physical activities, could signify diminished lung capacity or inefficient oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange, possibly due to conditions like COPD or heart disease. Similarly, a persistent cough may imply the presence of an irritant, infection, or a more severe lung condition such as bronchitis or lung cancer. In such scenarios, a PFT can prove instrumental in diagnosing potential lung problems, quantitatively measuring the dynamics of airflow and oxygen transfer.

Fatigue and chest discomfort

In many cases, fatigue and chest discomfort often get dismissed as routine afflictions or signs of aging. However, when persistent, the symptoms warrant immediate medical attention. Fatigue could result from inadequate oxygen supply to the body's cells, leading to compromised cellular metabolism and reduced energy production. Chest discomfort, on the other hand, may reflect inflammation, fluid accumulation, or abnormal pressure dynamics within the chest cavity. In the presence of such symptoms, a PFT becomes crucial to reveal the underlying cause.

Change in mucus color

Expectoration, or coughing up mucus, forms part of the body's natural defense mechanism, trapping and eliminating foreign particles and pathogens from the lungs. However, alterations in the mucus color, consistency, or volume may hint at lung disease. Green, yellow, or bloody mucus often suggests an ongoing lung infection or inflammation. A PFT can provide a clearer picture, enabling clinicians to assess the severity and type of lung impairment.

Wheezing and chest tightness

A high-pitched whistling or wheezing sound during respiration and chest tightness frequently occur when the airways become blocked or narrowed. Such changes in the respiratory tract can cause significant breathing difficulty and discomfort, drastically affecting day-to-day activities and overall quality of life. Asthma and COPD frequently present with such symptoms. A PFT becomes crucial in such scenarios to make a proper diagnosis.

Consistent exposure to lung irritants

Regular exposure to lung irritants like tobacco smoke, industrial pollutants, and hazardous chemicals can significantly escalate the risk of developing lung diseases. Many occupational hazards involve prolonged exposure to such irritants, potentially leading to chronic respiratory conditions like asbestosis or silicosis. Given the risk, a proactive measure such as a PFT becomes necessary for some workers.

A proactive approach to health

The fight against lung disease starts with awareness and timely action. Consider getting a PFT if any concerning lung signs apply. The diagnostic tool can provide vital information about lung health, offering a chance to address any issues before the condition becomes too severe.