Rarely do we stop and notice our lungs, yet along with our heart they are in constant motion—working no matter what. Millions of people live with lung diseases every day and know with each breath whether or not their lungs are working well.
If you are experiencing breathing problems, know that there are local solutions to such common lung diseases as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, asthma, emphysema and allergies.
Symptoms people notice when they have a possible lung disease are shortness of breath, chronic cough, chronic mucus production, chest pain, wheezing and coughing up blood, according to the American Lung Association. When people come in to see their doctor for these chronic, ongoing symptoms, a pulmonary function test (PFT)—a series of different procedures that measure lung function—is often ordered. Prowers Medical Center offers pulmonary function tests by registered respiratory therapists.
“We have five board registered and certified respiratory therapists on our team that perform basic pulmonary function tests for COPD, asthma and other conditions,” says Jeanna Warman, CRT, Cardiopulmonary Department Supervisor at Prowers Medical Center.
Pulmonary function tests tell doctors how well your lungs are working, and pinpoint the exact loss of function. Technically, the tests measure the volume of air that your lungs can hold, the rate of airflow into and out of your lungs and the gas exchange between your lungs and your blood.
A spirometer is sometimes used in conjunction with the PFT, either before or after. The patient wears a mask attached to a tube and performs several breathing exercises. Measurements are recorded on a device called a spirograph. Sometimes, a bronchodilator is given to see if there is improvement with a secondary test.
The tests take approximately an hour to an hour and a half and are read by the ordering healthcare provider. Craig Shapiro, MD and area Pulmonologist is returning to the PMC Specialty Clinic in July and will once again see patients in Lamar for care appointments. “There are a lot of lung issues in the area, so having a pulmonologist at the Specialty Clinic is really helpful,” Warman said.
Pulmonary function tests are primarily used for diagnosing lung disease, but they also measure how well breathing medicines and therapies are working. The Cardio Pulmonary Department is staffed from 6:00 a.m. until 12:00 midnight and then has a therapist on-call.
“We provide a ton of education to make sure our patients have all the tools they need. As an asthmatic myself, I am personally committed to covering all bases with our patients. When patients understand their condition and their medicine, they are healthier,” Warman says.
If you have been experiencing chronic breathing problems, it might be time to see your doctor. There are several different treatments for lung diseases, including medicines. Bronchodilators are used to expand bronchial air passages and inhaled steroids work to reduce inflammation in the lungs. Oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation are also solutions provided by respiratory therapists at Prowers Medical Center.
“The hospital also offers sleep studies to catch such conditions as obstructive sleep apnea, which causes pauses in breathing or shallow breaths. If you are experiencing fatigue or falling asleep during the day, you might ask your doctor if a sleep study is a good option for you,” Warman concludes.
Call Out Box:
Pulmonology specialist at PMC Outpatient Specialty Clinic
Dr. Craig Shapiro
719-564-1542 for appointments
Visits monthly, starting this summer