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In-Depth Breathing Disorder
Diagnostic Process Respiratory therapists and respiratory therapy technicians at CMC, working under the direction of a physician, evaluate, treat and care for patients with breathing disorders. Your breathing disorder diagnostic process may include any of the following:
  • Analysis of your sputum and breath specimens
  • Analysis of your blood to determine levels of oxygen, carbon dioxide and other gases
  • Measurement of your lung capacity through pulmonary function testing
  • Stress tests and other studies of your cardiopulmonary system
  • Study of disruptive sleep patterns 

Diagnosis and Testing: Pulmonary Function Survey
Pulmonary function testing includes a battery of studies that measure lung function. Testing may include simple screening spirometry, formal lung volume measurement, diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide, and arterial blood gases.

A screening spirometry test involves inhaling deeply before closing your mouth around the spirometer mouthpiece and then exhaling through the tubing while measurements are taken. Some test measurements are obtained by normal breathing, and other tests require rapid and forceful inhalation and/or exhalation. The volume of air inhaled or exhaled, and the length of time each breath takes, is recorded and analyzed. Tests may be repeated after you take a medication (a bronchodilator) that opens the airways of the lungs. A spirometry test can take anywhere from ten minutes to an hour, depending on the different types of breathing tests being measured.

During body plethysmography, you sit inside a glass-walled airtight box about the size of a refrigerator call a plethysmograph. Body plethysmography is particularly appropriate if you have air spaces within the lung that do not communicate with the bronchial tree. As you perform breathing exercises, the pressure in the breathing tube and box is recorded. You will be talked through the test by a technician who is usually sitting right next to the plethysmograph, which measures pressure, flow or volume changes. Other tests that can be measured in the body plethysmograph include spirometry, lung volumes, airway resistance, total gas volume and diffusing capacity (DLCO).

Range of Treatment Options
  • Depending on your diagnosis, your treatment could include any of the following:
  • Oxygen administration to assist with breathing
  • Mechanical ventilation if you cannot breathe adequately on your own
  • Therapies to help recover lung function
  • Aerosol medications to alleviate breathing problems and to prevent respiratory infections
  • Rehabilitation activities, such as low-impact aerobic exercises to improve chronic lung problems
  • Participating in a smoking cessation program to improve lung function 

For more information on respiratory services at CMC, call (603) 626-2626.
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