Long COVID Self-Management - Pulmonary Function Testing (PFT)
Some people who have had COVID-19 will experience problems with their lungs. This can make them feel short of breath. The reason for this could be because they spent a long time on a breathing machine or were unable to move around. It could also be because they developed a new illness after their COVID-19 infection.
If you are noticing shortness of breath, your doctor may request that you have tests done to measure your lung function. This will help the medical team assess the issue and monitor the shortness of breath. Some of these tests may include:
- A simple and painless way to estimate how much oxygen is in the blood. This is done through the use of a clip with a light sensor on it that goes on your finger or forehead.
- The results of this test can be inaccurate if the patient has poor blood flow in their hands. Other factors can affect the accuracy, including nail polish on fingernails, irregular heartbeats, hand movement, and having cold hands.
- Spirometry is a simple breathing test that can help diagnose lung diseases and assess how serious the disease is.
- The results can be helpful to monitor the progress of your lung disease.
Important Measurements that Come with Spirometry Testing
- FEV1= Forced Expiratory Volume in the first second
- FVC= Forced Vital Capacity.
DLCO – Diffusion Capacity for Carbon Monoxide
- A diffusion capacity for carbon monoxide test must be done in a pulmonary function lab. The pulmonary function test technician will teach you how to breathe for it, like taking a big breath in of a test gas, then holding your breath.
- A diffusion capacity for carbon monoxide test measures the ability of your lungs to transfer gases from the air, through the lung wall into your blood stream.
6MWT – Six Minute Walk Test
- A 6 Minute Walk Test is a simple test that provides information regarding your fitness.
- During this test you will be asked to walk for six minutes, walking as far as you can.
- During the test, your oxygen levels will be monitored.
- While you are walking, you will be asked every minute to grade your level of shortness of breath on a scale of 1 to 10.
- This test can be repeated during or following a rehabilitation program to assess the improvement in your fitness.
CPET – Cardiopulmonary Exercise Test
- A Cardiopulmonary Exercise Test is used to assess how your heart and lungs respond to exercise.
- This may be helpful in figuring out if your heart and / or lungs are limited during exercise.
- You will be exercising on a bicycle or treadmill.
- The workout will become more difficult during the test.
- A medical expert will be monitoring your heart, blood pressure, breathing, and oxygen levels.