Lung Function testing for children: Spirometry

Spirometry is a lung function test which provides information about how your child’s lungs are working. It measures how much and how fast your child can move air into and out of your lungs. There are other lung functions tests like Lung Volumes, Diffusion capacity and Impulse Oscillometry.

Which children would benefit from the Lung Function Test or Spirometry?
Children with recurrent chest congestion or wheezing, childhood asthma, exercise-induced breathing difficulty would benefit from Spirometry or Lung Function Test. Spirometry or Lung Function Test helps in confirming the diagnosis, assessing the degree of the disease and response to treatment.

Do all children with asthma require a Spirometry or Lung Function test?
Yes, all children need to have a Lung Function test or Spirometry done for diagnosis of asthma and also during follow up for assessment of response to treatment.

What happens during the spirometry or lung function test?
During spirometry or lung function tests, the child is asked to blow out into the lung function equipment or spirometer machine. This might have to be repeated 4-5 times. Our specifically trained staff would assist the child. We use computer animation games to make spirometry easier for our children.

A computerized sensor, which is part of the spirometer or lung function machine, will calculate the results. These are later presented as graphs and values.

After what age can children perform a spirometry?
Usually children older than 4-5 years of age can perform spirometry or lung function tests. There might be a 10% chance that the child is not able to perform the spirometry or lung function test the first time. In such cases we can repeat the test at a later time. Children who are unable to perform a spirometry can undergo Impulse Oscillometry, which can be done from the age of 3 years. Detailed information is available on Impulse Oscillometry on our website.

How long does a spirometry or lung function test session take?
A spirometry or lung function test takes around 15 minutes. If we need to repeat the spirometry or lung function test after giving a medicine like salbutamol then it would take additional time.

If your child is suffering from recurrent chest congestion, recurrent wheezing, childhood asthma or exercise-induced breathing difficulty you need to contact a pediatric pulmonologist or allergist and get a spirometry or lung function test done. This would help in proper diagnosis and help in treatment.

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