Lung Clinic

Spirometry

What is spirometry testing and why do I need it?

Spirometry is a test of how well your lungs work.The test is carried out using a machine called a spirometer.Spirometry is needed to diagnose and assess your lung condition so you can be given the right treatment. Your doctor can also use the test results to find out how severe your lung condition is and help set your treatment goals.

What happens in a spirometry test?

For this test, you blow air into a mouthpiece attached to a small machine (spirometer). The machine measures how much air you blow out and how fast you can blow it in one go. You may be asked to do this multiple times to check that the readings are similar each time you blow into the machine.
A spirometry appointment usually takes approximately 20–30 minutes. It is not difficult or painful but requires some effort.

After the test

You can return to your normal activities. Some people find it hard to do the test, so you may feel tired afterwards.Your doctor or nurse will discuss the results of your tests afterwards or at a future appointment. 

Asthma Education and Action Plan

Over 2.5 million Australians have asthma – about 1 in 10 adults and about 1 in 9 or 10 children.Asthma and allergies are closely linked. Asthma is more common in families with allergies or asthma, but not everyone with asthma has allergies.

Adults of any age can develop asthma, even if they did not have asthma as a child.

What is asthma?

Asthma is a disease of the airways – which are the breathing tubes that carry air into our lungs. Sometimes it is harder for a person with asthma to breathe in and out, but at other times their breathing is normal. 

It is important to understand that asthma is a long-term (chronic) disease. and although there is currently no cure, with the right knowledge and good management, most people with asthma can lead full and active lives.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of asthma are:

  • wheezing – a continuous, high-pitched sound coming from the chest while breathing
  • shortness of breath – a feeling of not being able to get enough air
  • a feeling of tightness in the chest
  • coughing – alongside other symptoms.

You do not need to have all of these symptoms to be diagnosed with asthma.

Noisy breathing, such as a rattling sound, is common in healthy babies and preschoolers. This is not the same as wheezing and does not mean the child has asthma. 

What is an asthma flare up?

An asthma flare-up is when asthma symptoms start up or get worse compared to usual. The symptoms won’t go away by themselves and need treatment.

These flare-ups can happen quite quickly (e.g. if you are exposed to smoke) but they can also come on gradually over hours or days (e.g. if you get a cold).

The term ‘asthma attack’ is confusing because it means different things to different people – from a bout of wheezing after running for the bus through to being admitted to hospital for asthma.

An asthma flare-up can become serious if not treated properly, even in someone whose asthma is usually mild or well controlled. A severe flare-up needs urgent treatment by a doctor or hospital emergency department.

What is a written asthma action plan?

A written asthma action plan is a set of instructions that helps you recognize worsening asthma and tells you what to do in response. Different action plans suit different people, but all plans should have the same key information.

Your personalized asthma action plan should include:

  • a list of your usual asthma medicines, including doses
  • instructions on what to do when asthma is getting worse (including when to take extra doses or extra medicines, and when to contact a doctor or go to the emergency department)
  • what to do in an asthma emergency
  • the name of your health professional who prepared the plan with you
  • the date.

 

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: COPD

What is COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a long-term (chronic) condition that
obstructs (blocks) the airways in the lungs.
Often the term COPD is used to describe chronic bronchitis and emphysema, 2 progressive lung diseases which can occur by themselves or together. The most common form of COPD is a combination of the 2 conditions.
COPD causes increasing shortness of breath, leading to impairment in the activities of daily living and a gradual loss of quality of life.
Chronic bronchitis is, as its name suggests, a chronic inflammation of the airways (bronchi) in your lungs. It is defined as a cough that is productive of sputum occurring on a daily basis for at least 3 months of 2 or more consecutive years.
Bronchitis results in the lungs producing too much of the mucus they make to keep the bronchi moist. This causes coughing and narrowing of the airways, making it more difficult for air to flow freely. As a result, you become breathless. Although many people contract acute (short-term) bronchitis at some time in their lives, chronic bronchitis lasts for months or years.

What causes COPD?

The vast majority of cases of emphysema and chronic bronchitis are caused by long-term smoking. In some cases COPD can also result from occupational exposure to dust or chemical fumes. In people who smoke, air pollution can aggravate the symptoms of COPD but air pollution doesn’t appear to cause COPD in non-smokers.

What are the symptoms of COPD?

The symptoms of COPD vary. In mild forms of chronic bronchitis and emphysema, coughing or breathlessness on exertion may be the only symptom. Mild emphysema may not even have any signs to start with. Later on in both conditions you may notice you get short of breath when doing moderate daily activities. You may have frequent coughing and recurrent chest infections or bronchitis.
In the severe stage, daily activities become more difficult with the continual shortness of breath and often bodily changes occur,such as a blue tinge to the skin from chronic bronchitis, fluid retention in the ankles and a ‘barrel-shaped’ chest from emphysema.
Indications that you are at risk of developing COPD include the following.

  • Smoking for many years.
  • 'Smoker's cough' in the morning.
  • Bouts of asthma or bronchitis.
  • When you get a cold it lasts for weeks, rather than days.
  • Chronic cough or heavy phlegm.
  • At least one prolonged episode of bronchitis every winter.
  • A cough that feels shallow, like something is stuck inside your chest.

What can be done?

COPD is a progressive condition and unfortunately there is no cure for it. It also isn’t possible to reverse lung damage that’s already been done. However, your lung function can be improved and your symptoms can be relieved by some self-management options, as advised by your doctor, medications where necessary and special lung exercises.
By far the most important thing you can do for yourself if you have COPD is to stop smoking immediately. You may have tried to in the past, but if you have been diagnosed with COPD, it is even more important that you talk to your doctor about stopping. You will improve your cough, ease your breathlessness and you’ll also slow down further lung damage.

  





Address: T97 Brimbank Shopping Centre (next to Woolworth and Direct Chemist Outlet)
28-72 Neale Road, Deer Park, VIC 3023