There are a variety of factors that can have an impact on lung health. Air pollution, smoking, and aging are just some elements that can greatly influence respiratory functions, which is why it is vital to ensure that your lung health is not compromised. Lung testing can often help detect the cause of breathing problems and identify lung damage from exposure to pollutants, among other things.
If you’re concerned about your lung health or lung capacity, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor. In between visits, you can try these simple tests at home:
The Peak Flow Test
This is the most common type of home lung function test and essentially measures the strength of your breath. The methodology involves using an over-the-counter device called the Peak Flow Meter, which works by measuring how fast air comes out of the lungs when you exhale forcefully after inhaling fully.
Before usage, make sure that the sliding marker on the device is at the bottom of the scale.
Stand upright and take a deep breath with the mouthpiece of the Peak Flow Meter placed in your mouth tightly. In a single breath, blow air out of your lungs as hard and quickly as possible.
You will notice the marker move along the numbered scale. Note down the number it stops at (normal readings range between 400 and 700 litres per minute).
Repeat the process three times, and record the highest of the three readings before discussing them with your doctor.
Pinch Test Breathing
Simple breathing exercises such as Pinch Test Breathing are another effective way to check for abnormalities in respiratory patterns. Performing this exercise involves:
Lying down on your back and placing your thumb and finger on the front of your rib cage. The thumb and finger of the other hand should be placed on the back of the rib cage.
Place the middle finger of both hands on the hip bone in the front and start taking a few deep breaths.
Ideally, you should notice the front and back of your body expand while breathing in (notice the movement of your thumb).
If either the front or the back of your body is not expanding, it may be a good idea to consult a medical expert for a lung checkup.
Simple Cardio Test
If you're not having trouble breathing in your day-to-day life, a simple cardio test is great way to get a better sense of your lung health.
Run up two flights of stairs or walk at a brisk pace for five to seven blocks.
If you experience slight shortness of breath, you may want to consider adding breathing exercises and light cardio activities to your daily routine.
- If you experience extreme shortness of breath, or have to abruptly stop the exercise, you may want to bring this up with a medical professional.
Monitor your lung health frequently
While these self-assessment tests are not full-proof ways to detect lung abnormalities or conditions, they are simple methods to help you keep track of your general lung health routinely. Those with existing conditions or respiratory symptoms that limit day-to-day activities are recommended to consult medical experts for regular checkups.