Last month, we covered the importance of spirometry and its value to our physicians in the care of our asthmatic patients. This month, I would like to focus on how to give your best effort when performing spirometry. Excellent technique only increases your physician’s ability to interpret your results and provide you with optimal care!
The following are some helpful tips for giving us your best spirometry effort:
- You should be sitting with good posture, head slightly elevated, and both feet flat on the floor.
- It is very important to take the biggest deep breath in that you are capable of before you put the mouthpiece into your mouth to blow out. The more air you take in to your lungs before blowing out, the better you will be able to perform the maneuver.
- When putting the mouthpiece in your mouth at the start of the test, you need to place it past your teeth with your mouth closed firmly around it before you start to exhale. This ensures that there is no leaking of air around the mouthpiece when you breathe out. You want to get credit for all the air you are exhaling!
- There shouldn’t be a big time gap between taking your maximum breath in and putting the mouthpiece in your mouth to perform your maximum exhalation. The longer the delay, the more air you are actually losing (even though you may feel like you are holding your breath, studies have shown that even a 2 second delay between your inhalation and your exhalation results in a significant drop in your results).
- Be prepared for your nurse to ask you to repeat the maneuver if you cough during your test. Although usually not deliberate, coughing does affect the results and we will do our best to obtain 3 efforts with no coughing.
- Make sure that your tongue is not obstructing the mouthpiece. This is a common problem that is easy to correct. Keeping your tongue out of the way ensures that you are “getting credit” for all the air you are blowing out.
- Please, please make sure that the moment you have the mouthpiece in place, you blow into it as forcefully as you can immediately. Due to the fact that our patients know they need to blow out as long as they can, they sometimes try to make their breath last longer by not blowing out as hard as they can at the start of the maneuver. This produces a result that the physician cannot interpret. Blow out as forcefully as you can at the very start of the test, and then continue to blow out as long as you can.
Now you know the secret to performing spirometry like a rock star. Your excellent technique will impress your physician and really aid in providing you with the best asthma care that our experts can render!!!