Understanding the Different Types of Pulmonary Function Tests for COPD

misc image

Understanding the Different Types of Pulmonary Function Tests for COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive respiratory condition that can significantly impact your ability to breathe. Early diagnosis and effective management are crucial for improving the quality of life for individuals living with COPD.

Our team at Allergy A.R.T.S. in Amarillo, Texas, excels at diagnosing and treating various respiratory conditions, including COPD. Read why our physicians use pulmonary function tests (PFTs) to effectively manage COPD and gain valuable insights into your lung function.

Understanding COPD

COPD is a term that encompasses two main conditions: chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Both conditions involve damage to the airways and air sacs in the lungs, leading to breathing difficulties.

Chronic bronchitis

This condition is characterized by inflammation and narrowing of the bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from the lungs. The inflammation leads to increased mucus production, further obstructing the airways.


Emphysema involves damage to the lungs' air sacs (pulmonary alveoli). These air sacs are responsible for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. In emphysema, the walls of the air sacs become damaged and lose their elasticity, leading to difficulty exhaling air.

The primary cause of COPD is long-term exposure to irritating gases or particulate matter, most commonly from cigarette smoke. Other factors, such as air pollution, chemical fumes, and dust, can also contribute to the development of COPD.

Common symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath, especially during physical activity
  • Chronic cough
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness

COPD is progressive, meaning that it tends to worsen over time. There is no cure for COPD, but various treatments can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

What are pulmonary function tests?

Pulmonary function tests (PFTs) are a group of tests that provide information about the function of your lungs. Most require you to simply inhale and exhale as a computer measures your lung function.

What are the different types of pulmonary function tests?

Some common types of pulmonary function tests include:


This test measures the amount and speed of air you can inhale and exhale. During the test, you breathe into a device called a spirometer, which records the airflow.

Lung volumes

This test measures the amount of air in the lungs and how much can be moved in and out during different breathing phases.

Diffusing capacity

Also known as the carbon monoxide diffusion capacity, this test measures how effectively oxygen moves from your lungs into the bloodstream.

Peak expiratory flow (PEF)

This test measures the maximum speed at which a person can exhale air from their lungs.

Arterial blood gas (ABG) analysis

This study involves taking a small sample of blood from an artery, usually from the wrist or arm, to measure oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in your bloodstream.

Along with diagnosing COPD, regular monitoring through PFTs allows your care team at Allergy A.R.T.S. to track changes in your lung function over time, assess treatment efficacy, and adjust management strategies accordingly.

Don’t ignore COPD. Effective treatment can help improve lung function and your overall quality of life. Schedule a visit at Allergy A.R.T.S. today by calling our office or requesting an appointment online.