The importance of knowing your lung health and its capacity is huge if you have any respiratory issues or undergoing oxygen therapy. By doing a lung test, you can easily understand the current condition of your lung.
Lung tests show the changes in your lung over a period of time. There are several ways you’ll find to test your lung capacity and most of them require visiting an expert or pulmonologist.
However, sometimes you may want to do the lung capacity test or COPD test at home without visiting your healthcare professional. In such a case, there might be a question that arises in your mind: how to test lung capacity at home? To get the answer to this question, you need to read the article completely.
What Is Lung Capacity?
Simply, lung capacity means the maximum amount of air that your lung is able to hold. Generally, men have a higher lung capacity compared to women. A healthy man’s lung can hold about 1.5 pints of air, whereas a woman’s lung can hold up to 0.6 to 0.8 pints of air.
Anyway, most of us don’t use the full capacity of our lungs. According to Jonathan P. Parsons, M.D., professor of internal medicine, “The lungs are over-engineered to accomplish the job that we ask them to do. In healthy people without chronic lung disease, even at maximum exercise intensity, we only use 70 percent of the possible lung capacity.”
To be more specific, lung capacity is a measurement parameter that helps you to calculate the total capacity of your lung volume. There are four ways to measure the capacity of your lung, (VC) – Vital Capacity, (IV) – Inspiratory Capacity, (FRC) – Functional Residual Capacity, and (TLC) – Total Lung Capacity.
- Vital Capacity: It’s the volume that can be exhaled after max inspiration. The general value of Vital Capacity is five liters. It’s the overall sum of the IRV, TV, and ERV.
- Inspiratory Capacity: IC refers to the amount of air that can be inhaled with max inspiration. The general value of an IC is 3 liters, and it’s the total sum of IRV and TV.
- Functional Residual Capacity: FRC means the amount of air remaining in your lung after the end of expiration. The standard value of FRC is three liters, and it’s the total sum of RV and ERV.
- Total Lung Capacity: TLC refers to the overall volume of air after the max inspiration. The general value of TLC is six liters, and it’s the total summation of all values.
Why Do You Need To Test Lung Capacity?
If you want to know how well your lung is functioning, you have to do the lung capacity test, which is also known as the pulmonary function test. Lung capacity tests include a variety of tests that help you to check the current condition of your lung.
The most common test that is used for lung capacity is spirometry. Through this test, you can measure the amount of air that your lung can hold. Besides, this test also shows how forcefully an individual can empty air from their lungs.
There is another effective way to test your lung capacity that is Lung Volume Testing. This test is more accurate than spirometry. Through this test, you can measure the amount of air in your lungs. It also includes the air that remains after your normal breath.
Besides, you can do a diffusing lung capacity test that helps you to measure how smoothly oxygen is entering your bloodstream. With an exercise test, you can identify the reasons behind your shortness of breath if you have a breathing problem.
The ultimate goal of doing the above-mentioned lung capacity test is:
- Identifying the causes behind your breathing problems
- Monitor and diagnose chronic lung disease such as asthma, COPD, emphysema
- Determine the effectiveness of your lung treatment
- To observe the condition of your lung before surgery
- Find out the exact reason behind your lung problem.
How To Test Lung Capacity At Home?
The significance of testing your lung capacity is enormous if you’ve any respiratory issues like asthma, emphysema, covid-19, etc., or if you’re on oxygen therapy. By doing a lung capacity test, you can examine the capacity and strength of your lung.
It also helps you observe all kinds of changes in your lung over a period of time and assists you in understanding the critical condition of your lung. So that you can take medical help before things get worse.
Now there might be a question that arises in your mind: how to test lung capacity at home without visiting a specialist? If this is what you’re thinking, then there is good news for you. You can easily do the test of your lung capacity from the comfort of your home with an inexpensive lung testing device known as a peak flow meter.
It’s a handheld device capable of determining the strength of your breathing according to the peak expiratory flow. You just need to breathe one end of the device, and the meter of the device will immediately show you the reading on the scale. It shows the results in liters per minute.
Look at the following section to learn how to use this device to test your lung capacity at your home.
- First, you need to set the meter of the device into zero reading.
- Now, take a deep breath and maintain your body posture unmoved during the time of testing. It will help you to get more precise results.
- Keep the mouthpiece of the device properly on the lips and hold it tightly.
- Breath out with your full effort as forcefully as you can, just for one second.
- Record the reading seen that you see in the gauge.
- Reset the peak flow meter to zero reading before you use the device again.
NB: Never calculate the average. During testing, if you encounter a cough or any problem, skip that reading and do the test again. Always keep a record of your peak flow rates and provide them to your physician when needed.
How To Tell If Your Lungs Are Healthy?
The lung is an internal part of your body. Therefore it’s not possible for you to declare the condition of your lung without doing a proper lung test. To know the condition of your lung, you have to do a lung test.
There are several lung tests available that you can do to measure of lung function, such as spirometry, Lung Volume Testing, diffusing lung capacity test, lung exercise test, etc.
With the above-mentioned tests, you can easily identify the current condition of your lung. You can even do the lung function test at home by using an inexpensive easy to use peak flow meter.
With this home breathing test, you can easily figure out whether your lungs are healthy or not! Besides that, there are some common warning signs that will tell you when your lungs are not in good condition. They are:
- Shortness of breath or facing difficulty in breathing.
- Air hunger or you’ll feel you’re not getting sufficient air.
- Chronic cough.
- Coughing up blood.
- Chronic mucus.
- Feeling chest pain for a long time.
NB: Add breath training exercise with your regular exercise routine to keep your lung healthy and enhance its capacity.
Tips To Increase Lung Capacity
We all know that prevention is the best medicine and it’s always better than cure. Therefore, trying to keep your lung in healthy condition is a far better and efficient way to repair it after damage. Follow the below tips to keep your lungs healthy and active.
- Quit smoking, and avoid environmental irritants or secondhand smoke.
- Eat antioxidants containing foods.
- Complete your vaccination, like pneumonia vaccine and flu vaccine. Vaccination helps a lot to prevent lung infections and it also increases your lung health.
- Exercise on a regular basis. Add breathing exercise to your daily exercise routine. For an effective breathing exercise, you can use a lung expansion device as well. It’ll increase your lung capacity and solve different type of breathing problems.
- Improve the quality of the air in your indoor environment. You can use air filters to minimize pollution like dust, mold, and artificial fragrance.
People with chronic pulmonary conditions, like asthma, COPD, or other lung problems need to check their lung capacity frequently. It helps them to track down whether the condition is under control or not. But going to a pulmonologist every time may not be possible for you.
In such a situation, you want to do a home breathing test to measure your lung function. To help you with this, in the above article I’ve shown you: how to test lung capacity at home. Just follow the above-mentioned process and test the capacity of your lungs by sitting at your home.
After completing your lung capacity test don’t get worried about the result. You can increase the capacity of your lungs by breathing exercise with an OPEP device.