LUNG FUNCTION TESTS

All patients who have any tendency to asthma are encouraged to purchase their own peakflow gauge. This is a valuable guide which can be used at home to indicate when it is necessary to increase medication as well as giving a guide to when it is safe to reduce and even omit all medications. But the peakflow gauge does not replace spirometry which should be performed by the doctor. Any patient who needs regular aerosol therapy should have as a minimum an annual lung function test with measurement of FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in 1 second) and FVC (forced vital capacity). All asthmatics should understand the meaning of the terms peakflow, FEV1 and FVC.

More sophisticated techniques to estimate lung function involve the use of a whole body plethysmograph known as a "Body Test". The value of this procedure is that it is a rapid and easy method of evaluating the air that is trapped in the lung in chronic asthma.

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