An important part of how we follow our patient with asthma is with the breathing test called a spirometry. Those of you who are our patients know that this is the test where you are asked to blow into a machine that measures your airflow. I know some or you complain about this test because the technician is usually encouraging you to blow as hard and as fast as you can and empty your lungs completely. Despite the insulated walls and doors of the lab, I can always here “Blow, Blow, Keep Blowing!!” from the technician whose job it is to be sure we have an accurate test. The result of this test is an objective measure of one important aspect of lung function and takes away any subjective component about how you may feel your lung function is doing.
A recent study looked at trying to have the patient do this test at home and report it to us periodically by phone or when you think you may be having a problem. This study analyzed data from about 3,000 patients. Results showed that home spirometry was less consistent and lacked agreement with test done in a supervised office or clinic. These findings indicate that the test results are highly dependent on knowledgeable and aggressive supervision.
The next time you come in for a spirometry and are made to work hard to do the test correctly, know that the results are very important to your treatment and outcome.