It is of utmost essential to know your lung health and capacity if you have breathing problems or need oxygen therapy. Lung capacity tests check how well your lungs work.
How to test lung capacity at home? A peak flow meter is a common method, allowing you to check lung capacity or evaluate any breathing problem at home. You can measure your peak expiratory flow with the help of a peak flow meter.
Continue reading this guide to learn the step-by-step process of testing lung capacity.
What is Lung Capacity?
The straightforward answer is that the maximum amount of air that your lung can hold is known as lung capacity. Usually, the lunch capacity of a man is higher than a woman. A healthy man’s lung capacity is 1.5 pints of air, while a healthy woman's lunch capacity is 0.6 – 0.8 pints of air.
Mr. Jonathon P. Parsons, M.D., a professor of internal medicine, stated, “We can only use 70% of our lung capacity, even when exercising intensity is maximum.” This means, most of the time, the lung capacity of a healthy person remains unused.
You can measure your lung capacity by following 4 different ways, which are
- Vital Capacity: This refers to the amount of air that can be exhaled after maximum inspiration. Five liters is the VC’s general value.
- Inspiratory Capacity: This refers to the amount of air that can be breathed with maximum inspiration. Three liters is the IC’s general value.
- Functional Residual Capacity: This refers to the amount of air that can be breathed after the end of inspiration. Three liters is the FRC’s standard value.
- Total Lung Capacity: This refers to the amount of total air exhaled after the end of inspiration. Six liters is the FRC’s standard value.
How Can You Test Your Lung Capacity at Home in 9 Easy Steps?
If you have problems like asthma, Covid-19, emphysema or taking oxygen therapy, testing lung capacity is significantly essential. A lung capacity test will let you examine the strength of your lung.
With a peak flow meter in your hand, you don’t need to visit a specialist to check your lung capacity. It is an inexpensive, handheld and easy-to-operate lung testing device. All you need to do is, breathe at the device’s one end. Then you will get the result in liters/minute on the scale after a few seconds.
Here is a step-by-step guide on using a peak flow meter to use lung capacity at home.
Step 01: Prepare Yourself
Take your meal before 3 – 4 hours of the test. Wear comfortable clothing. It is advised not to smoke or perform an intense exercise for 6 hours before the test.
Step 02: Peak Flow Meter Set Up
Check the meter setup. If the pointer is not showing the lowest reading, take it to the zero position with your hand.
Step 03: Take a Deep Breath
Don’t move, and keep your body as straight as possible when testing. Then take a deep breath. The result will be precise if you do so.
Step 04: Put Your Mouth on the Mouth Piece
Every peak flow meter comes with a mouthpiece. Put your mouth on it and try breathing. Make sure there is no leakage between your lips and mouthpiece. Hold the peak flow meter tightly.
Step 05: Breath Out
Now, blow out fast and hard in a single blow. Consider doing this step for only 1 second.
Step 06: See the Scale
Next, check the reading of the scale. The indicator of the peak flow meter will move to a number of the device. Record the reading that you have got from the gauge.
Step 07: Reset the Pointer
Then consider doing the same steps again. For this, reset the pointer to zero position.
Step 08: Follow the Steps 3 Times
It would be best to follow the above steps carefully 3 times. If the result is quite similar every time, be sure that you didn’t make a mistake anytime.
Step 09: Don’t Calculate Average
Record the reading in a paper. Mark the highest of the 3 readings. If your physician asks for the record, show the paper whenever required.
- While doing the test, if you encounter a cough or other problems, skip the reading.
- Clean and care for your peak flow meter as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
What to Understand from the Peak Flow Meter Reading?
So, after doing the test, what to understand from the result? Is it good or bad or worse?
The peak flow meter has 3 different zones: green (stable), yellow (caution) and red (danger). Depending on the reading, you need a visit to a physician.
- Green (Stable): Your respiratory condition is stable if your reading is between 80% – 100%. This indicates that there is no point in worrying.
- Yellow (Caution): You are in the yellow zone when the peak flow rate is between 50% – 80%. This reading means you have the potential threat of asthma or short breathing. In this case, medication protocol is mandatory. You will need to follow specific instructions according to your doctor’s advice.
- Red (danger): Less than 50% peak rate is the red zone. You need to stop everything and visit a doctor urgently in this situation. Your physician will explain what to do next. Follow every instruction of your doctor meticulously to survive in this condition. The red zone is considered medical urgency. Generally, most people with less than 50% peak rate can’t walk or talk.
Why Should I Test My Lung Health?
Testing lung capacity is a must for asthma sufferers, as per the Cleveland Clinic. Here are some good reasons for doing lung capacity tests at home.
- Learn when emergency care is required or to call a doctor
- Get early treatment during a flare-up
- Track your asthma triggers
- Determine your oxygen treatment
how to increase lung capacity?
Maintaining your lung health at its best is significantly essential. By following the below tips, you can ensure good health and the capacity of your lungs.
- Stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.
- Eat antioxidant-rich food
- Lung infection can easily be prevented by taking the vaccination. The flu vaccine and pneumonia vaccine are 2 important vaccines that will help you prevent lung infection. They will also help increase your lung health.
- Regular exercise or yoga is a good option. You can do an effective breathing exercise or take assistance from an airphysio to increase your lung capacity. The honest opinion of the airphysio is that it helps you solve different breathing problems.
- Improve the air quality of your indoor environment. In this case, you can install air filters in your home to reduce artificial fragrance, mold, dust, etc.
People living with asthma or other lung problems need to test their lunch capacity quite often. This way, they can track down their lung health to avoid further unwanted issues.
But visiting a physician may not be possible every time to test your lung capacity. In this case, we believe this guide on how to test lung capacity at home will come in handy. Carefully follow the steps mentioned above and do the needful based on the peak flow meter reading.
Don’t be worried if your lung capacity is low. Meticulously follow your doctor’s advice and above discussed tips, your lung capacity will gradually increase for sure.