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Lung function testing and COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented considerable challenges to global health services and dictates almost every aspect of medical practice and policy. Lung function has never been a more critical test than at this current time. COVID-19 is primarily a respiratory illness causing pneumonia. Fortunately, in most cases it resolves completely, but it may take some time, and, in some cases, additional treatments are needed. Lung function is a key investigation to help find out if your lungs are suffering from the aftermath of COVID-19 infection.
Here, at OneWelbeck Lung health we are still offering a full quota of comprehensive diagnostic tests such as full Lung Function, FeNO, Reversibility and Cardio-Pulmonary Exercise testing. We recognise that we offer a critical service to help alleviate the serious capacity strain within the NHS and aim to support patients by providing access to essential diagnostic testing, procedures, and surgery. As always, we will continue with our stringent infection control measures, ensuring the safety of our patients and staff attending OneWelbeck.
What is lung function testing?
Lung function testing requires the patient to breathe in and out of specialised equipment to measure rates of airflow through the airways; the volume of the lungs at full capacity, at rest and at their most empty; and, finally measure the ability of the lung to exchange gases with the bloodstream. This requires an element of cooperation with the physiologist who will guide you through it and give you multiple attempts. It is important if you do not understand instructions well in English to arrange an interpreter or bring someone with you who can help.
We also offer more specialised tests to assess the strength of the breathing muscles, the degree of inflammation (a FeNO test) and finally we can assess the airways response to “provoking” agents to try to bring out a diagnosis of asthma.
Why should I take a lung function test?
There are several reasons for performing these tests such as to help make a diagnosis and to quantify the degree of lung damage. To assess the progress of your existing breathing condition by comparing these tests with previous results. To see how your breathing condition improves with different treatments and to help assess fitness before surgery. More specifically, testing an individual’s respiratory performance under conditions of physiological stress (eg, exercise) will enable more detailed characterisation of any functional impediment and the cardiorespiratory impact of prior COVID-19 infection.
Are there any risks?
There is naturally some concern about undertaking lung function and the spread of COVID-19. For this reason, strict protocols must be in place regarding which patients we test and using the right personal protective equipment (PPE) for our staff. All our testing rooms have more than the required 16 air changes per hour which allows us to continue functioning at almost normal throughput. All equipment is cleaned and allowed to dry between patients with chlorine-based solution.