What do Spirometry Results Say About Your Asthma?

What do Spirometry Results Say About Your Asthma?

Suffer from asthma? Maintain and improve your lung health with our intelligent Bluetooth Spirometer technology.

The below content is derived from research done using sources available on the internet. Safey Medical Devices Inc and its subsidiaries do not take any responsibility for the accuracy of the content. No medical decision should be taken on the basis of below content without consulting with your Medical Practitioner.

Is it possible for GPs or asthma nurses to measure the severity of your asthma using a Bluetooth Spirometer? Find out more in our latest blog post on the benefits of spirometry

A spirometer test is often used to by GPs and asthma nurses to gain an understanding of how narrow your airways are before and after using reliever medication. 

It is a common diagnosis method for asthma sufferers, but it is also used to help medical professionals determine whether a patient’s lung symptoms may be attributed to another lung condition such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and Asthma/COPD overlap syndrome (ACOS).

Asthma UK says that GPs and asthma nurses may also request spirometry at an annual review for existing asthma sufferers. This is often undertaken during a separate appointment with a nurse or qualified healthcare assistant. The reason for a spirometer test at an annual review is to help GPs and asthma nurses determine whether a patient’s asthma symptoms are stable or whether they are deteriorating quickly.

NOTE – Spirometry results are not often available immediately after a test. 

Most importantly, they need to be reviewed by a professional that knows how to interpret them fully. If you want to know more about what spirometry results and data says about the severity of asthma symptoms, read on.

Why spirometry is a preferred diagnosis method

A spirometer test is a preferred method of diagnosis among general practitioners (GPs) and asthma nurses as it can offer critical information about a variety of asthma symptoms, including:

  • How restrictive or obstructive inhaling and exhaling is to your lungs
  • The severity of any airway blockage
  • The effect of medication on the opening of your airways
  • The sensitivity of your airways
  • The effectiveness of your asthma medication
  • If the functioning of your lungs has improved or declined over time

Where and how is spirometry carried out?

Providing that your GP or asthma nurse has a Bluetooth Spirometer within their practice, spirometry can be carried out in the privacy of their room. Spirometer tests can also be carried out in hospital pulmonary function laboratories. In some rare cases, pharmacies have been known to offer spirometer tests also.

Prior to your first spirometer test, your GP or asthma nurse will ask you to keep calm and take a relaxed, deep breath into the machine. You will then be asked to take a deep breath in and out as fast as you can using the spirometer’s mouthpiece. 

You must do so for as many times as you can in order to get an accurate result. Some patients can find this a very strenuous exercise, particularly if they have been struggling with inhaling, exhaling or both in recent weeks.

Once your GP or asthma nurse has recorded an accurate result, you may be asked to consume some asthma medicine via a spacer which acts as a muscle reliever, known as albuterol. This can provide instant relief to your airways, opening them up and making it easier to breathe in and out. If your airways react positively to the albuterol, it is much more likely that you have asthma.

Understanding spirometry data for asthma sufferers

There are three important results that GPs and asthma nurses can glean from spirometer tests:

  1. FEV1 – The total amount of air that can be forcefully exhaled within one second. This stands for forced expiratory volume in one second.
  2. FVC – The total amount of air that can be forcefully exhaled in total. FVC stands for forced vital capacity.
  3. FEV1/FVC – This calculates your lungs’ total air capacity that can be forcefully exhaled in one second.

Usually, GPs and asthma nurses will record the figures for the calculations above in litres per minute and percentages. These can be monitored over time to ascertain the degradation of an asthma sufferer’s condition. The percentage figure displayed is based on “predicted normal values” regarding an individual’s gender, height, weight, age and race.

Once the above figures and percentages have been calculated, GPs and asthma nurses use these figures to ascertain the severity of a patient’s asthma condition based on a mild-moderate-severe scale:

Mild Asthma

FEV1 – More than 80%

FEV1/FVC – Adults (Normal) Children (More than 80%)

Moderate Asthma

FEV1 – 60%-80%

FEV1/FVC – Adults (Reduced by 5%) Children (75%-80%)

Severe Asthma

FEV1 – Less than 60%

FEV1/FVC – Adults (Reduced by more than 5%) Children (Less than 75%)

Individuals with a low FEV1 and a low FEV1/FVC are usually suffering with exhaling air from their lungs, which often indicates an obstruction or narrowing of the airways. Asthma is considered one of the most common obstructive lung diseases, as well as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

GPs and asthma nurses can also measure the results of their patients after taking albuterol. This can help decipher whether an individual suffers from asthma or COPD. If a patient experiences their FEV1 increase by as much as 12% after taking albuterol, it suggests that the blockage in their airways is not permanent and can be eased. Reversibility is a sign of asthma, according to Asthma.net.

If you are an asthma sufferer and you wish to understand the effect your medications are having on your lungs, regular spirometry can be carried out providing your symptoms have stabilized. GPs and asthma nurses will use additional spirometer tests to determine how well controlled your asthma symptoms are:

  • Well-controlled asthma = A FEV1 reading greater than 80%
  • Not well controlled asthma = A FEV1 reading between 60%-80%
  • Poorly controlled asthma = A FEV1 reading less than 60%

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It is said that more than half of all deaths linked to asthma are wholly preventable. Spirometry not only helps to diagnose people with suspected asthma symptoms, it can keep track of those with moderate and severe asthma to understand whether their conditions improve over time with the right asthma medication and adherence.

At Safey, we believe our industry leading smart inhaler technology can improve the efficiency of medication adherence among asthma sufferers. If spirometry data has detected that you have asthma, our smart Bluetooth-enabled inhalers not only help you with your inhaler technique, they communicate with caretakers and clinicians to ensure your lungs are receiving the medicine they need to improve your airways.

By controlling your asthma symptoms, we can minimize the economic and emotional burden on the UK’s healthcare system, whilst helping asthma sufferers to lead a normal, happy lifestyle.