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Bronchodilator Reversibility Testing

What is a bronchodilator reversibility test?

This test is used to find out how well your lungs are working.

This test is done with a spirometer and a bronchodilator. A spirometer is a machine that measures lung function. It measures how much and how fast air is blown out or exhaled. Bronchodilators are medicines that open the airways, making it easier to breathe.

Why might I need a bronchodilator reversibility test?

This test is often used in people who have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It may be done to help diagnose either condition. The test is done to see if the person has any improvement in airflow after taking the bronchodilator medicine.

How do I get ready for a bronchodilator reversibility test?

Before the test, you may be told not to take your normal bronchodilator medicine. Make sure you follow the instructions exactly as given. If the pretest instructions are confusing, be certain to ask questions.

What happens during a bronchodilator reversibility test? 

This test is often done in your healthcare provider's office. The testing often goes like this:

1. You will be asked to take a deep breath and then blow into the spirometer as hard as you can. The spirometer records the results. This is called a baseline measurement.

2. You will be given a dose of bronchodilator medicine. To do this, you will use an inhaler or nebulizer.

3. You will wait for about 15 minutes.

4. You will take a deep breath and then blow into the spirometer as hard as you can. Again, it will record the results.

5. You will be asked to blow into the spirometer more than once. This is done to get the best reading you can.

What happens after a bronchodilator reversibility test?

After this test, your healthcare provider will make, confirm, or exclude a diagnosis of lung disease. Your provider will also use information from:

  • Your health history

  • Results of a physical exam

  • The results of other tests

The results of this test may be used to find out how severe your lung condition is. It can help your healthcare provider choose the best treatment for you.

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